New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure that would constitutionally dedicate $14 million a year from the sales tax on paint to cleaning up lead hazards in homes.
More than $50 million dollars has been diverted for other uses since the lead abatement program fund was created in 2004.
Senator Ron Rice says it’s sad the money isn't going to help prevent potential health problems for kids.
“To do this to young people throughout New Jersey it just annoys me, and I would like to think that this legislature and the governor will put this in and let the people vote this thing so we can get this resolved once and for all.”
Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley says making sure the program gets the money it's entitled to would help shield kids from lead poisoning.
“Lead paint actually to a young kid tastes very sweet. So ironically once a kid starts to eat lead paint, they usually tend to eat more of it. Once lead is in the bloodstream of a young child their development is permanently altered.”
Arnold Cohen, the senior policy coordinator for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, agrees on the need to protect kids from lead hazards.
“Any amount of lead in a child’s system can hurt their development, their ability to learn, and to fully function later on in life. It’s very efficient to prevent by doing inspection and testing rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars later on in treatment for a child.”
The proposed constitutional would need the approval of the full legislature by the end of August to be put on the November ballot.
New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel believes that’s not likely to happen.
“Maybe for next year. Unfortunately, that means they’ll still be stealing money this year. And now with this budget negotiation going down to the wire, every penny anywhere is going to be grabbed to try to avoid a government shutdown or pass a budget.”