DEP: Anticipated higher corporate business tax would help fund major projects

TRENTON – Anticipated increases in the Corporate Business Tax will enable the Department of Environmental Protection to continue funding major

TRENTON – Anticipated increases in the Corporate Business Tax will enable the Department of Environmental Protection to continue funding major projects, and all state parks will remain open, the DEP commissioner said Thursday.

Commissioner Bob Martin said the DEP will receive about $17 million more than last year because of greater revenues, despite an overall decrease in the department’s budget.

The proposed $353.6 million budget is 9.8 percent lower from the $392.2 million budget, largely because of reductions in debt service payments.

He told an Assembly Budget Committee that the budget includes alternate sources of funding – e-waste, recycling and Global Warming Solutions funds – that save the general fund about $7.9 million.

He also said the proposed waiver rule “will apply common sense to those limited exceptional cases” where rules are burdensome, a public emergency exists,  and there is a benefit to the environment.

“This is not a get out of jail free card, nor is it a way to relax our high environmental standards,” he said.

Martin added: “A waiver will not be granted in any case inconsistent with any state or federal laws, regional air agreements, emissions trading programs or health and safety standards.”

While the DEP’s staff is significantly leaner from 15 years ago – from 4,000 to 2,877 workers – the quality of the department’s services have not been compromised, he said.

No layoffs are planned in the budget. DEP: Anticipated higher corporate business tax would help fund major projects