Jersey Shore congressmen vow to fight proposed flood insurance surcharge

     Photo: Julio Cortez/AP

    Photo: Julio Cortez/AP

    Three federal lawmakers representing the Jersey Shore say they’ll fight the Trump administration’s proposed flood insurance surcharge.

    U.S. Congressmen Frank A. LoBiondo (R-02), Tom MacArthur (R-03), and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-06) say the hike is unreasonable as many families are still suffering since Superstorm Sandy struck in late 2012.

    “The administration’s budget proposal is but an initial offer in the annual appropriations process. I resoundingly reject this specific provision and will work closely and tirelessly with my colleagues representing coastal communities as the process of funding agencies and reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) moves forward,” LoBiondo said in a release. 

    The NFIP’s Flood Hazard Mapping Program, under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, establishes flood map zones upon which flood insurance premiums are based.

    [RELATED: Explainer: The National Flood Insurance program]

    It is funded by both general taxpayer money through the annual Homeland Security appropriations and a federal policy fee on NFIP policyholder premiums. 

    The administration’s proposed budget says that the move to eliminate the $190 million appropriation for the mapping program is “to ensure that the cost of government services is not subsidized by taxpayers who do not directly benefit from those programs,” adding that the government is to “explore other more effective and fair means of funding flood mapping efforts.”

    LoBiondo says the financial burden shifts solely to the NFIP policyholders when the appropriation is eliminated. More than 200,000 New Jersey residents have policies that cover up to $250,000 in structural damage and $100,000 for content losses. 

    MacArthur recently told NorthJersey.com that flood victims have “struggled enough.”

    “Premiums have been increasing at pretty significant rates, and in a lot of cases people didn’t get treated fairly in the process. So I think to add another surcharge, to me, the two should not be connected,” he said. 

    Pallone pinned the surcharge on helping to fund the Trump administration’s highly polarizing border wall proposal. The Washington Post recently reported that the money saved from FEMA budget cuts would shift to fund the wall. 

    “I will fight any proposal to place the burden of President Trump’s extreme immigration policy on flood insurance policy holders and New Jersey’s working families,” he said. 

    Ocean County’s Seaside Park adopted a resolution this week opposing the surcharge.

    In part, it states that “the timing of this proposed budget cut demonstrates the complete insensitivity to the fiscal problems facing our policyholders who continue to struggle with unaffordable flood insurance premiums.”

    Members of the Stop FEMA Now group on Facebook are similarly not pleased with the proposal.

    “I’m so sick of how government works,” wrote Renne Roddy LaBauve. “FYI, the working class always gets screwed.” 

    George Kasimos, the group’s founder, says the plan is distressing.

    “It doesn’t matter whose ideas it is. Just let your elected officials know it’s a BAD idea,” he wrote. 

    The NFIP is set to expire by September 30, 2017 if not reauthorized by Congress. 

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