Getting Cumberland County What It Deserves : News Room : The Van Drew Team for Change : Jeff Van Drew, Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land
Getting Cumberland County What It Deserves
The recently approved federal stimulus package is a golden opportunity to create and sustain jobs, spark economic growth and reshape New Jersey’s future during this global economic recession, but that will only happen if everybody benefits. Leaving Cumberland County out of vital stimulus spending would dilute the impact of these efforts to jumpstart our economy, which is why I’ve worked hard in recent weeks along with Assemblymen Nelson T. Albano and Sen. Jeff Van Drew to ensure Cumberland County gets its fair share. We were extremely disappointed to learn in March that Cumberland County – New Jersey’s poorest county – was to receive no money from the state’s share of $894 million in transportation funding from the federal economic stimulus package. This was an inexplicable decision, and we weren’t going to accept it. This decision treated Cumberland County unfairly, and we found it hard to believe no Cumberland County projects were among the 55 chosen to receive nearly $1 billion. That’s a lot of money. Surely there was room for Cumberland County. It was particularly baffling considering how Cumberland County has one of New Jersey’s highest unemployment rates – topping 10 percent – and one of the federal stimulus package’s main goals is to create jobs. To put it simply, this decision was unacceptable. We need transportation projects funded here in Cumberland County and we need them now. Our economy cannot wait. Stimulus projects would not only benefit our region through new jobs and investment, but would have tangential benefits, too. Local businesses would benefit through increased sales of supplies. Local restaurants would benefit from increased business from the new workers. The benefits would extend throughout our region’s economy. So we fired off letters to the governor and I questioned state transportation officials during a public committee hearing, and we are pleased to note that federal transportation funding has made its way to Cumberland County, along with a pledge for more. This money should have been coming our way all along. I think it’s safe to say this would not have happened had we sat back quietly and accepted that initial decision. Still, our work isn’t done. We’ve also demanded more priority be given to Cumberland County projects in future funding decisions to help spark much-needed economic development. We also intend to pursue money available through the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization for Cumberland County projects.
The global economic recession has hit hard, and as we work to ensure New Jersey emerges stronger from it, we must also work to make sure all of New Jersey benefits from the various stimulus funding being made available. Officials from the rest of New Jersey may often forget that Cumberland County exists, but residents can rest assured that Jeff Van Drew, Nelson Albano, and I will make sure they are regularly reminded that it deserves an equal share.
Assemblyman Matthew Milam represents the 1st Legislative District in the State Legislature.