In 1999, the state of New Jersey passed a law which took $1 from each traffic ticket and put that towards the funding of spinal cord injury research. In 2003 and then 2005, the state legislature passed similar legislation to take $1 from traffic tickets to pay for brain injury and autism research. The laws states that the money cannot be used for any other purpose. The New Jersey Commission for Spinal Cord Research funds approximately $3.5 million of spinal cord injury research per year. When I first came to New Jersey in 1997, there was little spinal cord injury research being done in the state. Now, there are over a dozen laboratories doing spinal cord injury research.
I just learned that Governor Chris Christie will be taking $5 million from the NJ Commission for Spinal Cord Research... this is the amount that was unspent from last year and this coming year's amounts. This will not only devastate the spinal cord injury program in the state but many students and fellows who are being funded by the Commission will no longer be getting their funding. The funds for spinal cord injury research are not coming from tax revenues. It comes from traffic tickets. The money was specifically designated for the purpose of supporting spinal cord injury research.
It is true that the legislature has tacked on autism and brain injury to traffic tickets since 1999 but this does not mean that the original rationale for using traffic offences to correct one of the consequences of motor vehicle violations. About half of all spinal cord injuries come from motor vehicular accidents. It is appropriate for $1 to be taken from each traffic violation to support spinal cord injury research. It is wrong and illegal for Governor Christie to take this money from the Commission to pay for budgetary deficits.