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House Commerce, Justice, Science Funding Bill Supports NJ Priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee today protects programs important to New Jersey communities.  The bill funds the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies.

“As we see on the news nearly every day, our nation is facing increased threats here at home. Federal law enforcement is essential to fighting these threats, protecting our people, and making sure that those who do harm are brought to justice. This bill increases funding for law enforcement – making sure they have the resources they need to fight crime and terrorism,” Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) said. “In addition, the bill includes important investments to boost U.S. scientific innovation that will maintain our nation’s status as a global leader.” 

The bill supports many programs important to New Jersey: 

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Grants– the FY 2018 bill includes $527 million in funding for Violence Against Women Act programs which is $45.5 million above FY.

VAWA grants are critical to the state of NJ to support services and programs in response to domestic violence and sexual assault. VAWA grants provide annual support to organizations like the Jersey Battered Women Service which uses this funding to support the Morris Family Justice center which since its opening last year has helped over 500 clients.

Reduce Sexual Assault Kits Backlog Grants –the bill provides $45 million to promote progress in reducing the backlog of untested sexual assault kits.  These grants provide resources and improve processes to test kits, provide training to law enforcement personnel while providing justice and resolution to the victims of sexual assault.

Byrne Justice Assistance Grants(JAG) – the legislation includes $500 million for the Department of Justice’s Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, an increase of $104 million. The cornerstone of federal crime fighting programs, this funding will provided direct assistance to New Jersey police officers and the law enforcement community by supporting multijurisdictional drug and gang task forces, information sharing and technology, county jails, prosecutors, drug courts, and juvenile delinquency and drug treatment programs.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)– The legislation provides $9 million for CASA which will support CASA programs across the country including CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, CASA for Children of Essex County, Passaic County CASA, and 12 other local CASA programs in New Jersey. These programs provided specially-trained and supervised advocates that devote sustained, long-term attention to the needs and rights of more than 3,660 child victims of abuse and neglect in New Jersey's 21 counties.  These child victims face significant trauma, multiple risk factors and, without effective intervention, long odds for success.

National Science Foundation (NSF)- The legislation funds NSF at $7.3 billion. In 2016 New Jersey received $163.7 million from the NSF to support research at 19 universities including Princeton, Rutgers, Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Montclair State University. In addition funding from the NSF was provided to 10 NJ small businesses in order to create jobs and help rebuild the economy.  Also included in this account is $57 million for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Rutgers and Princeton are two of the 36 institutional members working on LSST, which is a multipurpose observatory.  More than 27 scientists and engineers in New Jersey are working on this project which will bring more than $7.5 million to the state.

Legal Services(LSC) - The bill funds LSC, which the Administration proposed eliminating, at $300 million.  LSC funding allows Legal Services of New Jersey to provide representation to an additional 20,000 New Jersey clients in 6,700 new legal matters each year.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) – Overall, the legislation provides $4.97 billion for NOAA, an increase over the President’s $4.8 billion budget request.  Among other important activities, the funding supports:

•                     $31 million for Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) which collects and disseminates real-time data on the currents and dynamics of our oceans and Great Lakes which are used for a variety of essential services from Coast Guard search and rescue missions to severe weather forecasting. Rutgers is one of 11 Regional Associations of IOOS;

•                     $63 million level funding for the National Sea Grant College, which the Administration slated for elimination.  Funding supports the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium to address challenges facing our coastal communities and work with nearly 23,000 school children to make ocean science part of their education.  The funding also supports programs that filter storm- or wastewater along with publishing a technical manual which has resulted in the enhancement of a protective dunes system along the Jersey Shore;

•                     $848 million in funding for National Marine Fisheries Service, this funding helps ensure productive and sustainable New Jersey fisheries an economic engine in our state which employees 65,000 people and generates $2.5 billion in economic activity.

•                     $124 million in lending authority for Fisheries Finance Program including $100 million for traditional Direct Loans.  Loans are available to businesses in New Jersey and elsewhere involved in fishing, aquaculture, or seafood processing for the purchase or improvement of facilities or equipment.

Manufacturing Extension Program- $100 million provided in the bill.  While this represents a reduction from current levels, the Administration had proposed to eliminate the program.   Since 2000, New Jersey manufacturers have reported the following results as a result of engaging NJ MEP:

•           $2.53 billion in increased and retained sales;

•           $363 million in process improvement savings;   

•           29,776 in jobs created or retained;

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The legislation contains $54 billion in total discretionary funding, a decrease of $2.6 billion below fiscal year 2017 and $4.8 billion above the President’s request for these programs. The bill targets funding increases for national security – including cybercrime, counter-terrorism and espionage. The bill also provides increases for federal law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigration, and combat violent crime, gangs and opioid trafficking. Funds are included to help boost trade enforcement, continue investments in space exploration programs, and advance groundbreaking science and technologies essential for innovation, productivity, and economic growth. In order to make these investments, lower-priority programs are reduced or eliminated.

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