By Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A state transportation official said Friday the government will spend “whatever is necessary” to keep highways clear and safe in the next fiscal year.

The statements came after Gov. Chris Christie’s fiscal year 2016 budget summary showed the governor is proposing to cut spending on snow removal by $44 million.

New Jersey Transportation Department spokesman Stephen Schapiro said Friday that Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox will have the final say on spending for snow removal.

“Safety is NJDOT’s top priority and the Department will spend whatever is necessary to keep state highways clear and safe for the public,” Schapiro said in a statement.

Treasury spokesman Joseph Perone said decisions about how much to spend on snow removal depend on the weather, so the figure in the budget could change.

New Jersey is currently digging out from the latest winter storm that dropped up to 9 inches of snow in parts of the state.

Christie’s 2016 budget proposal also calls for a $118 million cut in transportation funding. The administration has also said the governor plans to replenish the state’s transportation trust fund by using about $600 million in unissued but already authorized bonds.

That decision has disappointed some lawmakers and interest groups who advocated for creating new, dedicated revenue streams for the fund.

Christie has said the new infusion would keep the fund solvent until June 2016.

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