The Rodney Report: Frelinghuysen's First Peek at the Budget

The Rodney Report is NJ 11th for Change's response to Representative Frelinghuysen’s Weekly E-newsletter

 The 3/17/17 edition:

  • Frelinghuysen’s Budget Assessment
  • 'Skinny Budget' Impact on NJ 11
  • Marking Women's History Month: The Irony
  • Tele Town Hall 3/20: Be there!

 

Rep. Frelinghuysen heralded the submission of President Trump’s “skinny budget” with a vague injunction that we should trust him, “I think everyone should rest assured that the House Appropriations Committee will take all of the Administration’s proposals and give them complete and fair consideration,” Rep. Frelinghuysen, the head of the Appropriations Committee, stated in his weekly E-Newsletter.

NJ 11th For Change advises vigilance instead of rest.

The proposed budget eliminates entire federal agencies, like the National Endowment of the Arts, and makes massive cuts to others, like the EPA, while pumping $54 billion into military spending. It would drastically reduce funds for the NYPD, including money used for counter-terrorism efforts, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health & Human Services. It would entirely eliminate the Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Economic Development Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency.

Other agencies slated for the chopping block are the National Broadcasting Corporation and NASA’s Office of Education, which supports STEM education programs all over the country. Ironically, in the newsletter, Mr. Frelinghuysen declared his support for both STEM education in NJ, and indirectly, his pride in NASA, enthusiastically saying, “As part of my ongoing efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) among New Jersey’s students, I had the honor of escorting a NASA astronaut to two local schools this week.”

Here are just a few examples of the devastating effects proposed cuts could have in NJ 11 and statewide:

  • With over 100 Superfund sites, New Jersey holds the disturbing record of most Superfund sites in any state. In the 11th district we have 13 active clean up sites, including locations in Sussex, Morris, Essex, and Passaic Counties. There is the the Radiation Technology, Inc. Site in Rockaway; the Pepe Fields Superfund site in Boonton; and the Unimatic Superfund Site in Fairfield; a residential area of Essex County where groundwater is currently contaminated less than half a mile from public drinking water wells. President Trump’s proposed 31 percent cut to the EPA's already lean budget could cripple its ability to complete the cleanup process. Even Governor Christie’s 2018 Budget includes $190 million in federal funds for environmental cleanup and protection.

 

 

  • Three billion in cuts to Community Block Grants could affect the Meals on Wheels programs for seniors. Although many are also funded with state and local monies, they exist in nearly every town in the district, from Hopatcong to Montclair. More than half a million veterans rely on Meals on Wheels. (In Friday's newsletter, Frelinghuysen, who has long voiced advocacy for service men and women, declared his "proud support" for House-approved bills to "establish a culture of accountability at VA and expand access to quality care.")

     

  •  A proposed $1.5 billion cut to the Interior Department’s budget could lead to potentially drastic decreases in the maintenance and protection of National Parks across the United States, including New Jersey’s own National Historical Park in Morristown. This National Park commemorates the site where General George Washington and the Continental army camped in 1779 and 1780.

 

  • The elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services means cultural resources like the Morris Museum in Morris Township might not have programs like Early Access, a suite of resources designed for families with members on the autism spectrum and other special needs. It was funded by a $100,000 from the organization in 2015. We could also lose programs that preserve local history, like a 2010 exhibition hosted at the National Historic Landmark Factory Building at Historic Speedwell, which explored the development of the telegraph by Alfred Vail and Samuel Morse. The Montclair Museum has also received institute support over the years.

 

  • Trump's gouging of the Department of Education would terminate or decimate more than 20 federal programs, including many for low-income students. Montclair State and other NJ colleges would also lose Teacher Quality Partnership grants, which support new-teacher training and development. The Trump budget could have an impact on funding for arts and sciences in higher education, including private and public NJ 11th institutions like the County College of Morris, Sussex County Community College, Caldwell University, Fairleigh Dickenson and Drew University. Academic programs throughout the state have received funding from the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment of the Humanities, the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center. All of those agencies are slated to be eliminated.

 

Military Spending & Picatinny

Drastic cuts aren’t the only thing we’re seeing in this budget. Among other increases, the proposal includes an increase of $54 billion in military spending, about 10 percent over this year’s approved $558 billion. An estimated 5 percent will go to “base-budget” programs, some of which is likely to end up at Picatinny Arsenal here in the 11th, and over $13 billion in the request would be spent on new helicopters, fighter jets and defense systems. 

It's worth noting that Rep.Frelinghuysen’s number one donor is Lockheed Martin, the nation’s top defense contractor and maker of military helicopters and fighter jets; his second biggest donor is Northrop Grumman, the world’s largest builder of naval vessels which specializes in aerospace and other defense systems. 

 Celebrating Women's History Month?

In his Friday newsletter, Rep. Frelinghuysen also noted that March is Women's History Month — without addressing the discrepancy between his claim to support women’s rights and his universal votes against women’s health and reproductive freedom over in recent years. He is currently rated at 11 percent by Planned Parenthood Action.

 Phoning it In

Mark your calendar: Rep. Frelinghuysen has announced a new time for his snow-cancelled Telephone “Town Hall” now scheduled for Monday 5 PM. Sign up on his website on the shiny new “Telephone Town Hall sign up button”and pride yourself, this is actually the very first Tele-call in the history of his 23 years in Washington for which he has given a time in advance. Read our tips on getting your questions asked and answered here. 

 

— By Lynn Halsey, Elizabeth Juvelir and Naomi Rand

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