Yesterday, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., (D-6) announced $14.5 million in federal funding for Atlantic Highlands Harbor to repair marina piers damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The congressman told NJ Today Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor that damage to the piers, the docks and adjoining areas was severe. He also said that cutbacks as a result of the sequester would be felt in New Jersey slowly but surely.
The federal funding for the marina repairs comes from the Sandy relief aid, said Pallone. The Atlantic Highlands is where commuter ferries travel to Manhattan, but marinas in other parts of the state were also badly hit, Pallone said.
“I think it was one of the worse but certainly I saw it my district in Perth Amboy, Leonardo, Keyport and up and down the bayshore area that I represent.”
When the subject turned to sequestration, Pallone said federal budget cuts are starting to have an impact on the state, most acutely in the area of air travel.
“Some of the smaller airports won’t even have air traffic controllers and the pilots will have to come in on their own,” he gave as an example. But that’s not all, he said cutbacks in airport security personnel will add to delays.
“There will be delays in customs because of the cutbacks when you come back from overseas, and Newark already has significant problems with delays.”
Other areas where cuts will have a significant effect will be in the area of autism treatment and research, according to Pallone, who was at the Rutgers’ Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center for World Autism Awareness Day.
“There’s about a $20 million cut this year which will get more severe as time goes on and that pays for the educational programs that that autism center where kids go there to learn life skills, group homes where they live, research for autism,” he explained.
Pallone listed other affected areas including transportation, both mass transit and highways, health research and funding for Pell grants.
“I mean the list goes on and on. Now a lot of this is going to be gradual but it’s going to have an impact on the economy,” he said.
According to Pallone, the cuts come at a time when the economy is just starting to grow. Rather than encouraging that growth, Pallone said the federal government is making across the board cuts that are detrimental.
“That’s the biggest problem with the sequester is that you’ll cut a program like autism where the autism prevalence is increasing. At the same time, you may keep a program that is not necessary,” he said. “Rather than getting rid of the bad and increasing funding for the good, you just have across the board cuts in everything which makes no sense.”