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Speaker Coughlin Visits St. James Food Pantry & Reo Diner to Discuss Food Security & Property Tax Relief Investment in Legislative Budget
(WOODBRIDGE) - Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) today met with residents in Woodbridge to discuss the restoration of the Homestead Rebate Program and the funding provided in the Legislature's budget to help fight hunger in New Jersey.
Coughlin visited the St. James Food Pantry and the Reo Diner in Woodbridge, where he spoke with residents, many of them seniors, about his commitment to restoring the Homestead Rebate Program, one of the most critical property-tax relief programs for seniors and working families. He also discussed strengthening food security in the state, so that more residents have access to nutritious food.
"There is a lot being said about what our budget does and who it helps. I wanted to meet with people face to face to address any lingering concerns and explain the investments that our budget is attempting to make," said Coughlin. "My top priorities as Speaker have been to provide tax relief for seniors and working class families, and increase access to nutritious food to fill the hunger gap faced by many families in the state. Those priorities are reflected in the budget we sent to the governor."
The Legislature's budget doubles the $143 million that the governor has requested in his own budget to restore homestead tax credits to their prior levels, keeping the promise the Legislature made to seniors and working families last year to fully fund the program this year.
The credit is available to seniors and disabled homeowners earning less than $150,000 dollars a year and all other homeowners with income below $75,000.
When the rebate was fully funded a few years ago, the benefit averaged $515 dollars for seniors and disabled homeowners, and $400 dollars for all other eligible homeowners.
"For seniors and families struggling to make ends meet, this program is a lifeline," said Coughlin. "The people with whom I spoke today are counting on us keeping our promise to them."
The Legislature's budget also provides $5 million for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the state's largest anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization. According to FoodBank, nearly one million people in New Jersey face hunger every day. Nearly 300,000 of them are children.
The organization provides food to more than 1,000 community partners, including local soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters, that serve people in need in their neighborhoods.
The governor's budget includes zero funding for this.
"For many families, having to choose between healthy meals and paying bills is a real dilemma. Food is not a choice. It is a necessity," said Coughlin. "Our budget helps families avoid this struggle."
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