ASSEMBLY DEMOCRATS RESTORE PROGRAMS FOR N.J.’S MOST VULNERABLE; NOTE GOP TAX INCREASES REMAIN

Budget Replete with GOP Tax Hikes on Middle-Class, Seniors, Poor

(TRENTON) — Assembly Democratic lawmakers on Thursday said changes to Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $29.4 billion budget plan will restore cuts to programs that help the state’s most vulnerable residents, but also noted the Republican plan continues to feature numerous tax increases on the middle-class, senior citizens, disabled and the poor.

The Republican budget also still slashes important programs such as women’s health care, adult education and public libraries.

“The improvements we’ve made today were driven by Assembly Democrats determined to make this budget plan the best it can possibly be for working class New Jerseyans amid unrelenting Republican support for tax increases,” said Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden). “This unfortunately remains a tax-laden Republican budget, but thanks to our changes it is at least better than initially proposed.”

“I want to be clear — Democrats do not support this Republican budget loaded with tax increases on working class New Jerseyans,” said Assembly Appropriations Chairwoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “We did what we could to make it better, but most of it regrettably remains an assault on the middle-class, senior citizens, disabled and the poor.”

“We made a better budget than the one that was presented to us in March, but we haven’t made a good one,” said Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Hudson). “I am worried about the family who may not have a meal. I am worried about the disabled. I am worried about the adults who are losing adult education.”

“This is a budget that says to senior citizens, ‘You’re not getting your property tax rebates. Your taxes are going up,’ ” said Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “There was a lot done to make it better to help those most vulnerable, but there’s a lot left undone and a lot more that could have been done.”

“I have grave, grave concerns about this budget,” said Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex), who voted to release the budget bill (A-3000) from the Assembly Budget Committee only to keep it moving and avoid a government shutdown. “The cuts in education will affect us for generations. I’m also very concerned about various cuts that I believe are misguided to job creation programs. We’ve taken steps to help the needy, but the truth is there’s just way too much pain in this budget.”

The budget changes provide:

  • General Assistance: $21.995 million;
  • Supplemental Security Income/Personal Needs Allowance For Community-Based Developmental Disabilities Clients: $10.28 million;
  • Personal Assistance Home Care : $9.7 million;
  • Education Services For Blind Children: $20,000;
  • Adult Medical Day Care: $2.38 million;
  • Sheltered Workshops for People with Disabilities: $3 million;
  • Respite Care: $800,000;
  • Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital: $6,37 million;
  • NJ After 3 Program: $3 million;
  • NJ STARS Tuition Scholarships: $1 million;
  • Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Opportunity Program: $1.3 million;
  • New Jersey Cultural Trust: $4 million;
  • Center For Hispanic Policy: $1.4 million; and
  • State Commission of Investigation: $3.54 million.

The Democrats also pushed for budget language that will allow for $48 million in approved, shovel-ready UEZ projects in urban centers to move forward as part of New Jersey’s economic development plan.

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