North Jersey Record

Josh Gottheimer touts increase in federal grants to NJ towns

By Terrence Mcdonald

Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer is touting his office’s efforts to win more federal grants for New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, saying in Oradell on Monday that the district received 35% more in federal dollars last year compared to 2017.

Gottheimer, of Wyckoff, referred to the effort as “clawing back” more federal dollars for New Jersey, which has historically received less in federal grants than it sends to Washington, D.C., in taxes. He also characterized the increase in the grants as property tax relief.

“By clawing back more to the Fifth District, we’ve lifted significant costs off of our town budgets,” said Gottheimer, flanked by local officials and standing in front of equipment paid for with grant money.

The two-term congressman said his office, which has a full-time “return on investment liaison,” helped local officials in 10 towns find and apply for federal grants that totaled $7.2 million since 2016, when he was first elected. Nine other towns received a total of $1.1 million for the first time in 2018, he said.

According to a 2019 report from public policy think tank the Rockefeller Institute of Government, New Jersey received 82 cents for every dollar it sent to the federal government in 2017. Mississippi, which Gottheimer singled out on Monday, receives $2.19 for every dollar.

His “moocher states” reference earned him a rebuke from U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, who called it a “ridiculous statement.”

“Mississippi is proud of everything it contributes to making this nation stronger, including world-class shipbuilding, multiple military facilities, defense manufacturing, and space rocket development,” she said, in a statement from her spokesman. “We’re also a leading agricultural production state. We have no regrets for everything Mississippi does to make America great.”

The Law Enforcement Support Office, which transfers extra U.S. Department of Defense equipment to local law enforcement agencies, provides many of the grants Gottheimer cited Monday. In 2017 and 2018, $3.8 million in grants from the program came to the Fifth District, which Gottheimer said is more than the prior five years combined.

The grants paid for everything from first aid kits to trucks. In Oradell, $965,000 in grants have allowed the borough to buy a mobile command center trailer, 15 generators, a security surveillance system, 50 first aid kits, 43 radios and two trucks, according to Gottheimer’s office.

Gottheimer also used Monday’s appearance to slam what he called “moocher states,” states that receive more money from the federal government than they send in taxes to Washington, D.C., like Mississippi.

“It’s a joke,” Gottheimer said. “I’m sick and tired of these states treating New Jersey like their piggy bank. We’re paying everyone else’s tab for their roads, bridges, law enforcement, while our taxes keep going up.”

Gottheimer easily won re-election in 2018 and already has a Republican challenger for 2020. The 5th District includes 79 towns in Bergen, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties.