Jersey Renews Coalition, including labor, faith, community and environmental voices and hundreds of thousands of members, advocates for key recovery programs ahead of FY21 Budget

Contact: Berenice Tompkins, Campaign Coordinator, Jersey Renews, 914-564-3094,

Doug O’Malley, Director, Environment New Jersey, 917-449-6812,

Deb Coyle McFadden, Executive Director, NJWEC, 609-882-6736,




Ahead of Budget, Jersey Renews Charts Path To a Just, Green State Recovery 

Jersey Renews Coalition, including labor, faith, community and environmental voices and hundreds of thousands of members, advocates for key recovery programs ahead of FY21 Budget

Trenton – As Governor Murphy and the Legislature prepare to allocate billions of dollars to our recovery FY21 budget, the Jersey Renews coalition, representing more than 60 labor, faith, community and environmental organizations, held a virtual assembly of core coalition organizations, allies and members  to advocate for rescuing communities and workers, not bailing out large corporations, and investing in a future safe from health, economic and climate catastrophe.

“Our state budget is a moral document,” said Fletcher Harper, director of GreenFaith. “In a year when so many of us have suffered from COVID, job loss, and painful disruption, we need our state government to prioritize the vulnerable among us and essential workers, and to build back better so that we’re ready to meet the dangers of climate change.”

Speakers focused on the need to fully fund NJ Transit to keep workers and riders safe, end raids to the Clean Energy Fund so we can invest in renewables and energy efficiency programs that serve the most vulnerable populations, fund job training programs that provide economic opportunities for small businesses and the clean energy workforce, protect workers and the environment by fully staffing our state agencies and invest in the public good by increasing revenue raisers to prevent draconian funding cuts to the core mission of state programs.

“Rebuilding from Covid-19 needs to be done in a way that addresses the crises that predate this virus – climate change and inequality,” said Kevin Brown, New Jersey State Director, 32BJ SEIU.  “We can’t do that by gutting the agencies and services that working families rely on. We need a budget that puts people first and invests in projects that will create good, family sustaining jobs.”

“A recovery is not a recovery if some of us are left off the recovery bus,” said Amy Goldsmith, State Director, Clean Water Action. “We cannot have a just and equitable state budget and society if the burden of recovery is placed on people who are out of work, without a safety net and wrongly discriminated against in their communities, workplaces and schools. The revenue must be raised from those who can afford it to help those left behind. Communities should shape their future and NJ labor should help create it. In doing so, we make our energy greener, air cleaner, water safer, economy greater and neighborhoods more resilient to climate change.”

“Saying we should build back better is past cliche at this point, but it’s reckless not to recover looking forward. Recovering — looking back at the way we used to do things and repeating the same deadly mistakes — only doubles down on the dirty air and toxic homes already poisoning our vulnerable communities. We all know better now,” said Ben Haygood, Environmental Health Policy Director, Isles. “Policy must be sustainable, or it by definition, cannot continue. We can do this in a smart manner that really does benefit the actual public, saves money for our strapped municipalities and renews our communities. The principles provided in the roadmap will get us there.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s healthcare workers, especially nurses and doctors, have suffered direct consequences from agency staffing and inadequate PPE for the safety of front-line healthcare workers.

“During this pandemic, those that should have been caring about the safety and health of healthcare workers, including employers, abandoned them in the time of their greatest need. New Jersey needs a Department of Health that has the funds to carry out its mission of hospital safety for patients and workers as well as increase its role in public health after years of having its budget and staff gutted,” said Alexis Rean-Walker, Secretary-Treasurer of Health Professionals and Allied Employees.

Speakers also emphasized that live-saving funding for these agencies and programs must not fall on the backs of those already hit hardest by the pandemic, and avoid the lasting impact of budget cuts during times of economic downturns for state departments like during the Great Recession, and importance of investing in agencies and the mission of state government by raising revenue.

“New Jersey can come out of this pandemic stronger, greener, and more resilient than ever before, but that will require wealthy households and big corporations to pay their fair share in taxes,” said Sheila Reynertson, Senior Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). “Right now, middle class families pay a higher share of their income in taxes than the top 1 percent do. This strains the state budget and makes it difficult for New Jersey to invest in the programs and services that our communities need. By ending Christie-era tax breaks, state lawmakers can make bold investments in green energy, clean air and water, and reliable mass transit.”

Environmental advocates highlighted the historical funding reductions and staffing cuts at NJDEP and the importance of having fully funded state agencies to promote public health and environmental sustainability. In addition, they highlighted the urgent need to make the Clean Energy Fund whole, which is dedicated funding for climate and energy investments, and to have a dedicated funding source for NJ Transit, in addition to any federal recovery dollars the transit agency can receive from Congress.

“A real recovery for New Jersey means a green recovery. We need to have a budget that takes care of people and protects our environment. We need funding in place to build offshore wind and solar, to get lead out of our pipes, and to fix our infrastructure. We can create jobs while targeting pollution reductions in overburdened communities,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We need to make sure that those who can afford it pay. We should restore the millionaire’s tax, close corporate loopholes, end corporate subsidies, and enforce Polluter Pay. This way we can stop cuts to environmental programs and raids to environmental funds to make sure our air is clean, water is pure, and that we’re cleaning up toxic sites and fighting climate change. This will allow us to build a greener, brighter future with a budget that moves our economy forward in an environmentally-sound way.”

“Budgets are always a vision for the future. During the COVID era and this moment of crisis, we urge Gov. Murphy and the Legislature to embrace a budget that doesn’t slash programs that protect our public health like the Clean Energy Fund and reduce air pollution like NJ Transit,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “More than ever, we need to fund our state agencies that can help us recover and invest in both the clean energy economy and the public good.”

“Protecting the integrity of the Clean Energy Fund should be a priority as our state leaders plan for recovery,” said Emma Horst-Martz, NJPIRG Advocate. “Consumers and businesses need the savings that energy efficiency programs provide, but we can’t do this work without funding to drive the projects.”

“If there was ever a time to invest in public health and good job creation, it is now,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, Director of NJ Work Environment Council. “New Jersey must seize this opportunity to take stock of our values — and to rebuild an equitable economy that invests in our workers, our environment and our health, while fairly raising the revenue to help pay for it.”

“Climate action and recovery must not be understood as separate — climate change and pollution are public health crises of their own, and taking them on will show that we are putting health and justice first for all New Jerseyans,” said Berenice Tompkins, campaign organizer for the Jersey Renews coalition.