(April 5, 2016) Trenton, NJ – Today in a State House Press Conference Governor Christie announced $10 million in the FY2016 budget for lead containment and abatement programs for low and moderate income New Jerseyans, in a huge victory for the #LeadFreeKidsNJ Campaign.
“The $10 million in lead abatement funding that Governor Christie announced today is the minimum our children and families have deserved for the past six years,” said Ann Vardeman, Program Director at New Jersey Citizen Action. “Over 18,000 children have been poisoned by lead since Governor Christie took office, and no amount of funding can repair the damage done to those children, families, and communities. However, we can save future heartache by getting the lead out now. We are looking forward to continued investments to keep our most precious resource, our children, safe.”
Despite the fact that elevated levels of highly toxic lead were found in more than 3100 young children in New Jersey last year, Governor Christie has raided New Jersey’s Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund every year of his administration in order to balance the budget. And this has had devastating consequences. According to newly released data by Trenton-based Isles, Inc, in 2014 11 New Jersey municipalities, including Newark, Jersey City, and Trenton were found to have a higher percentage of children affected by lead poisoning, as compared to Flint, Michigan, where lead in the drinking water has become a national story.
There is no safe level of lead in children. And without funding for lead poisoning prevention and abatement, thousands more of New Jersey’s children, especially in low-income and minority communities, will continue to suffer permanent damage. Governor Christie will announce his 2017 spending plan on February 16, and we need to ensure that lead poisoning prevention is included in his budget.
That’s why New Jersey Citizen Action has joined with other advocacy, community, and environmental organizations to launch the #LeadFreeKidsNJ campaign. You can check out some of the press coverage of our campaign launch here. As part of the campaign we will collect and deliver 3100 children’s painted handprints to Governor Christie to represent the 3100 New Jersey children who were needlessly poisoned by lead last year.
Want help us ensure lead poisoning prevention is included in this year’s budget? Join the #LeadFreeKidsNJ campaign! Here’s what you can do:
- Tell Governor Christie to include funding for lead prevention and abatement in this year’s budget by signing this petition
- Snap a picture of your child’s hand prints and share on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using #LeadFreeKidsNJ. You can use this flyer to trace or paint your child’s handprints
- Collect handprints from your children, neighbors, or school. Contact Ann Vardeman, at email@example.com to find out more.
Despite being entirely preventable, lead poisoning has devastating consequences for the children and communities affected. New Jersey can and will do better than this.