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Governor Christie Talks About Sandy Relief Cash [AUDIO]

Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., the House is expected to vote on the remaining $51 billion in Sandy Relief aid for New Jersey and New York.

Governor Chris Christie
Governor Chris Christie speaks with NJ101.5’s Kevin McArdle at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. (Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen)

The vote was originally set to take place on New Year’s Day, but Speaker John Boehner scrapped it, leading New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to say the following day, “There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims (of super-storm Sandy), the House majority and their Speaker John Boehner.”

In a one-on-one interview with Christie in his State House office, the Governor spoke about how the aid will be dispersed if it is approved.

Asked if he has a formula for doling out the relief money, Christie says, “No. The answer is no. We don’t yet. Some of that will be dictated by the language in the federal package. If it comes in the form that we hope it does there will be a significant amount of money to share between us and New York, about $17 billion in community development block grants which really give maximum flexibility to the Governors (Christie and Andrew Cuomo) to be able to determine how to distribute that money.”

Christie says the plan is to use that portion of the aid for small business block grants to individual business owners to help them re-open and for homeowners who might need some help.

“It’s going to be required by the federal law that this will be a transparent, competitive grant type of process,” explains Christie. “In the end, what we want and what I tried to explain to the President (Barack Obama) which got him to support the idea of a business grant program which doesn’t exist currently federal disaster law is, on the Jersey shore these small businesses, the restaurants, the pizzerias, the liquor stores, the laundromats, they’re the economic engine of those towns and also they’re kind of the cultural fabric of those towns along with the boardwalks and the amusements so we need those places open.”

The Governor says small business grants are crucial because many owners took out loans to get through the recession and taking out another loan to recover from Sandy may be too much for some.

Christie explains, “I’m afraid of businesses that don’t re-open this summer may never re-open, that we need to get them re-opened this summer. If we let them stay out this summer they just may not come back and the last thing you want is a lot of shuttered buildings in our shore communities. It doesn’t make them the most attractive for tourism.”

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