State Planning Commission Appointments Hailed by New Jersey Future
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 6, 2011
Chris Sturm, Senior Director of State Policy (609) 393-0008 ext. 114
Peter Kasabach, Executive Director (609) 393-0008 ext. 104
TRENTON, Jan. 6 — New Jersey Future today applauded Governor Chris Christie for filing appointments that will give the State Planning Commission the quorum required to conduct business, allowing it to fulfill its statutory obligation to advance state planning.
The appointments — Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, Transportation Commissioner James Simpson, Schools Development Authority CEO Marc Larkins and Community Affairs Commissioner Lori Grifa — will fill five of the six seats on the State Planning Commission designated for members of the executive branch.
“We welcome Governor Christie’s action as a key step to strengthen state planning,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “New Jersey needs a State Plan that provides a strategic vision and direction for where and how we will grow, build our economy, protect our environment and increase opportunities for all residents.”
The Governor’s action builds on last summer’s move of the Office of Smart Growth from the Department of Community Affairs to the Department of State, where it has been reorganized as the Office of Planning Advocacy under the Lieutenant Governor’s leadership. New Jersey Future has long advocated that the office be housed in a neutral location, where it can more effectively work with state agencies to align their rule-making and capital spending in support of the State Plan.
“Providing the commission with a quorum will enable towns that are already in the process of receiving plan endorsement or center designation to continue,” Kasabach noted. “However, the commission has not been repopulated to the point that it can now actively re-engage in all the functions of state planning.” Of the commission’s 10 seats for public members and local government representatives, five remain empty and five are filled with members whose terms have expired. One executive branch seat remains open.
“To ensure that the commission reflects a balanced approach to foster economic growth, urban revitalization, efficient use of infrastructure and stewardship of our natural resources, we recommend that the Secretary of Agriculture be reappointed, and that the remaining public and local government seats be filled promptly,” said New Jersey Future Senior Director of State Policy Chris Sturm.
The State Plan, last revised in 2001, is now seven years past its statutory deadline for an update. “The State Planning Commission needs direction and the authority, stature and staff to effectively coordinate state agency programs, regulations and capital spending, which will require additional administrative and legislative actions over the coming year,” Kasabach concluded. “The Christie administration is taking some of the right steps to move strategic state planning forward. We recommend additional urgency to this task. Without a strong state planning function guiding crucial decisions about development and open space preservation, we will continue to direct infrastructure resources and state government regulatory activities inefficiently and, in too many cases, unwisely.”