HANDS OFF BEACH PROTECTION MONEY

Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina, in partnership with other shore legislator?s today announced their opposition to a proposal to raid the state?s Shore Protection Fund to fund parks and forestry.

?It?s a bad budget gone worse,? said Amodeo. ?Our tourism economy begins and ends with our beaches. That?s why the casinos are in Atlantic City. Beach protection programs are our economy?s insurance policy.?

?We offered over a billion dollars in alternate cuts, and they choose to raid the Shore Protection Fund?? said Polistina. ?There is a stack of audits documenting millions of dollars of fraud and wasteful spending in the Abbott districts alone. They can fund state parks without touching a dime of beach protection. This proposal is budgetary politics at its worse.?

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill which would divert $9 million from the Shore Protection Fund to fund the state?s parks and forest operations, which the governor had slated to cut. However, the assemblymen said that such a proposal is illegal. The original law creating the Shore Protection Fund included a ?poison pill? provision which protects the money from being used for any purpose other than beach protection projects.

?That money is in a lock box. And it is in a lock box for a reason ? healthy beaches are vital for jobs and businesses in New Jersey,? said Amodeo. ?If anything, we need to invest more money into preventing beach erosion.?

The legislators also pointed out that federal beach protection dollars are contingent upon the state being able to provide matching funds. In Atlantic County, beaches on Absecon and Brigantine Islands are in the federal beach protection program.

?Federal law requires the state to pay a share of beach protection projects involving the Army Corps of Engineers,? said Polistina. ?If the state can?t meet its obligation because there is not enough money in the fund, it?s bye-bye beach fill.?

Amodeo and Polistina were joined by legislators from Ocean and Monmouth counties.

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