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Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester) took the Christie administration to task today for eliminating funding for the New Jersey After 3 program, which serves approximately 5,000 students in 34 public schools.

“The Governor’s cut to this program is simply nonsensical. During tough economic times, governments must prioritize, just like families do. Now we know that the Governor finds it more important to put a couple extra thousand dollars in the pockets of millionaires than to make sure underserved children have the means to get ahead in life.

“It’s a proven fact that the New Jersey After 3 program improves student test scores while reducing at-risk behavior and high school drop out rates. In fact, an independent 3-year evaluation by Policy Study Associates demonstrated that the program is a cost-effective public/private partnership that improves students’ academic performance.

“The study showed that students who participated in the program for at least two years demonstrated statistically significant gains in language arts skills and those who were highly active in the program demonstrated significantly higher scores in study skills than those that were less active. Students also fared very well in technology skills, which is especially important considering many come from limited means where they might not have access to computers at home.

In 2011 the Governor proposed the elimination of the $10 million for New Jersey After 3. The Legislature was able to restore $3 million to the program. However, cuts were made in programs for thousands of New Jersey children and their families who are struggling in the current economy.

The Governor, once again this year, proposed elimination of the entire appropriation for this program. Democrats restored the funding in the budget they passed last week, only to have it excised through the Governor’s line-item veto.

“The study also showed that with each dollar invested in an at-risk child, there is a return of approximately $9 to $12. The program has leveraged over $31 million in matching cash contributions and in-kind support since 2004.

“Last year, NJ After 3 raised $1.8 million and, as a result, was able to secure $2.4 million in matching funds from program partners. The state’s lack of funding seriously jeopardizes the viability of this program. In my district, for example, the Lindenwold program may cease to exist by the end of September, absent any divine intervention from a saving grace donor.

“The only thread of logic in the Governor’s cut is that it falls right in line with his pattern of balancing the budget on the backs of the working poor,” added Moriarty.