by KYW’s David Madden
TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — New Jersey will spend an extra $10 million this year on lead abatement throughout the state. But Governor Chris Christie is warning against a panic response to concerns over elevated lead levels in water in public schools in Newark and elsewhere.
Statewide lead efforts center mostly on housing stock. Christie says virtually every child, by age 6, has had at least one blood test for lead.
School districts now test for lead in the water, and re-mediate any problems with filters or in Newark’s case, bottled water, often with state help.
There are calls for the state to take over monitoring for lead in schools. The Governor suggests that might be premature. “I think a little bit of what we’ve got going on now is shoot first and aim later,” Christie told reporters at a press conference in Trenton. “Let’s figure out what the problem is. Then let’s aim it at the problem and then defeat it.”
His reasoning? The state constitution requires that anything the state mandates, the state must pay for. Still, Christie is not ruling the idea out.
“There’s 4,000 schools in the state of New Jersey and the question of do we really want the state to be responsible for testing every faucet in every school in the entire state, I think is a question worthy of debate and discussion,” Christie said.
And while there have been some public pronouncements of a statewide concern, no one in the legislature has discussed it with his staff.