How Would You Spend $1.4B in Recovery Funds? NJ Picks Up Ideas – New Jersey 101.5 FM | Gmx Pharm

TRENTON — State officials are taking information on how New Jersey’s remaining COVID recovery funding from America’s federal bailout plan will be spent, and activist groups had no shortage of ideas at an invited hearing held Monday.

New Jersey has been allocated $6.24 billion in fiscal recovery funds. Dennis Zeveloff, a policy adviser to Gov. Phil Murphy, said the state has allocated about $4.7 billion, including $1.4 billion in the new budget passed a month ago, and there are about 1 more 4 billion US dollars to deploy.

“Our kind of North Star here has been to find one-of-a-kind programs that have maximum impact in terms of boosting the COVID recovery and building a stronger and fairer New Jersey,” said Zeveloff.

Anyone with a suggestion on how the money should be used can email it to, although speaking time on the virtual forums is limited. Another hearing will take place on Thursday and more could be added.

Five of the 25 people who suggested ways the Murphy administration could use the funds said a portion of it should be used for hazard awards for essential workers.

They propose $1,000 for full-time workers and $500 for part-time workers who have had to continue working in person for the first 14 months of the pandemic. Minnesota, Connecticut and Puerto Rico have done something similar.

“While we have been lauded as indispensable workers and heroes, we have yet to be materially compensated for the risks we have experienced,” said April Fitch, a security officer at Newark Liberty International Airport.

“Whether you call it premium pay, hazard duty pay, emergency duty pay or anything else, these state employees deserve it,” said Steve Tully, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees New Jersey Council 63.

There were many requests for $100 million to be provided for one purpose or another.

Donna Chiera, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, said $100 million should be allocated for higher education, with a special focus on financially troubled universities that need help: $25 million each to William Paterson and the New Jersey City University, $15 million to Rider and $5 million to Thomas Edison State University.

“Thomas Edison, whose services are veterans, is trying to sell a portrait, a painting, a very famous painting for $5 million because they’re going to start looking at how to boost their budget,” Chiera said.

Chiera suggested that the other $30 million would go to community colleges in payments that would be more closely managed by the state than grants to financially distressed schools.

“If we could invest $100 million from federal funds to renovate a basketball arena in Rutgers and build a practice field for a soccer ball, surely we could invest $100 million in the true mission of higher education in New Jersey,” she said.

Here is a partial list of other suggestions:

reduce national debt

Put money in the unemployment fund to reduce corporate taxes

NJ transit

Housing affordability

community schools

Language access and cultural competence

Preventing Hate and Prejudice Crimes

student mental health

Reclamation checks for immigrants who are not legal residents

Expand recreational opportunities in low-income communities

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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These are the best hiking areas in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn’t have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible hiking trails, waterfalls and lakes.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to New Jersey’s hidden gems, there are many options for a great hike. Hiking is a great way to spend time outside and enjoy nature, and it’s also a great workout.

Before you hit the trails and explore some of our listeners’ suggestions, I have some hiking etiquette tips from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and meet an uphill hiker, step aside and give the uphill hiker room. A hiker going uphill has the right-of-way unless stopping to catch his breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side trails unless they are marked as an official trail, stay away from them. If you leave the trail, you can harm the ecosystems surrounding the trail, the plants and wildlife that live there.

You also don’t want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and keep hiking.

Cyclists should give way to hikers and horses. Hikers should also give way to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you’ll encounter on New Jersey’s trails.

If you decide to take your dog with you on your hike, be sure to keep them on a leash and ensure all pet waste is removed.

Finally, keep the weather in mind, if the trail is too muddy it’s probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions for the best hiking areas in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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