Gov. Phil Murphy “absolutely” vetoed a bipartisan bill that was to provide Greenwood Lake with $500,000 annually.
Bill S-2167 passed both houses of the State Legislature on Nov. 25 and would have used vessel registration money from the Maritime Industry Fund to pay for the measure by establishing the “New Jersey Greenwood Lake Fund.”
The money would go to the Greenwood Lake Commission for projects that take care of the state’s second largest body of freshwater.
“Contrary to the assertions made in the bill and its four accompanying committee statements, the Greenwood Lake Fund would in no way support the purpose of the Maritime Industry Fund, which is utilized by the Commissioner of Transportation to improve water transportation systems for the movement of people and goods,” Murphy said Thursday in a statement on vetoing the bill. “I have consistently sought to end the practice, mastered by past administrations, of diverting revenues away from their intended purposes. As such, I cannot support a new diversion, particularly outside of the context of the annual Appropriations Act.”
In the statement, he also said that he was concerned because the lake is shared with New York State, and that state is currently not obligated to match the funding.
Greenwood Lake Commission Co-Chairman Paul Zarrillo has said that once the New Jersey funding was in place, the commission would start work on getting the same level of funding from New York.
Murphy, however, said that there was “no practical way” to ensure the money would only be used for the New Jersey side of the lake.
“Absent a commitment from the State of New York to make a corresponding contribution to protect our shared natural resource, I cannot support this legislation,” he said in the statement.
Instead of this bill, Murphy pointed to his own $13.5 million plan to mitigate Harmful Algal Blooms throughout the state.
Zarrillo said that Murphy’s plan, announced recently, would encompass all lakes in the state and would be more project oriented and include matching money requirements from the municipalities where the lakes are located.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-26, said in a statement Thursday that he was extremely “dismayed” by Murphy’s veto.
“Trenton has failed the residents of West Milford and Passaic County, and the three million residents and thousands of businesses that depend on Greenwood Lake for drinking water,” Pennacchio said in the statement. “The administration abandoned one of our most popular and scenic waterways as a priority while they continually push their own liberal priorities. The veto is very disappointing to the residents of New Jersey. The governor owns this rejection. His message is ‘the State of New Jersey owns the lake, but West Milford, you pay for its maintenance.’”