Eric SCOTT (NJ101.5): Peg in Rutherford writes: 'What are your issues with New Jersey's public libraries? A 74% cut indicates a clear lack of support.' And we got many similar questions to Peg as well about the reduction in support for libraries.
Governor CHRISTIE: Listen, I love public libraries, but public libraries are one of the few places where, by statute, municipalities are required to dedicate a certain amount to their public libraries. And so there is a dedicated funding stream to libraries and each and every municipality that has one. And again, I'm not looking to cut funding from libraries, but everyone is sharing in the sacrifice. Every department of state government has been reduced. For the first time in recent memory, every department has been reduced. Every program has been looked at. And libraries can't be immune to that. And so, I don't feel good about having to do it, but the fact of the matter is as one of the earlier callers said I was handed a bag of problems when I took this job. And I'm not complaining about it. I understood at least some of the problems I was inheriting when I asked for the job. And so we're just dealing with as honestly as I can. I understand. I've gotten a lot of letters from people who utilize public libraries-
CHRISTIE: And I think there's some misinformation about it too. It's not like because of this, public libraries are going to be closing. Municipalities are required to dedicate a stream of funding to libraries in their towns. And we do not believe you'll be seeing any libraries close or any significant diminution of services for people to be able to utilize. But there were a number of streams of funding that went there. We felt like in an era of tough choices, given that there was another funding stream available to public libraries across the state of New Jersey, that that was one of the areas we could aggressively cut for the time being while we are in a difficult period.
There are two parts of this to which I want to respond.
First: Yes, most of the public library funding is through a dedicated local tax. However, bill A2555 seeks to gut that by eliminating the minimum funding requirement! There are also multiple streames of funding for libraries because of shared services, regional cooperatives, and statewide programs which help ALL libraries. Your cut will result in loss of services, possibly cut hours but definitely reduced services. Your also puts funding below thresholds to get federal funding- so the cut runs even deeper than you portray.
Second: We all know how bad were the fiscal problems you inhereted were; we all did. If you didn't, I suggest in the future you read the newspaper. Be aware how utterly disingenuous you sound every time you complain about it- and then insist you're not complaining about it.