Stress Need for Legislative Involvement; Exploration of Cuts that Lessen Impact on Middle & Working Class

(TRENTON) — Assembly Democrats issued a multimedia package Monday in which they discuss testimony from state Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff on Gov. Chris Christie’s FY 2010 budget cuts.

The members stressed the need for legislative involvement in the process to help mitigate the deep impact of some cuts and the ‘ripple effect’ of other cuts on middle- and working-class New Jersey.

The multimedia package consists of a video on the committee’s hearing, audio of the same and a transcript of statements from Democratic legislators on the panel.

The video can be accessed directly via our Web site — www.assemblydems.com — or by clicking here.

The audio file is available upon request.

A transcript of statements from the legislators is appended below:

Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden), Assembly Budget Committee chair:
“I think we outlined today very clearly there’s $118 million minimum that’s coming in a Medicaid clawback from the federal government — dollars that the state is entitled to. We can use that to immediately restore funding for the cancer cuts that will have a tremendous ripple effect, reading programs for the blind, charity care funding for the second largest employer in the state and you still have enough left over from that to reduce the cut to schools — and the increase in property taxes — by 25 percent. So, why would you not consider that? There’s a stubbornness, I think, from this administration.”

Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen):
“It appears to me that the Executive Branch, the treasurer’s office, just went down a list and made these cuts without thinking about the impact or the ripple effect of what was going on.”

Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex):
“There was no involvement of the Legislature. Had the Legislature been involved, then [Gov. Christie] would have known what the impact would have been of these cuts, rather than hearing about them today.”

Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex):
“We need to make sure, and that’s what we tried to do today, that cuts don’t have unintended consequences, that cuts are well thought out. We need to make sure, for example, that we’re not leaving federal funding on the table, which the treasurer testified that we did.”

Assemblywoman Joan M. Quigley (D-Hudson):
“How could [Gov. Christie] be surprised now? How could he say it’s a crisis? Was it a crisis when he was talking about it months ago? No. It’s not a crisis now. It is a bit of a mess, like every other state in the country and we have to fix it calmly, rationally, respectfully.”

Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester):
“I’m very concerned about this present year budget being held hostage at the expense of the new budget coming because programs would be cut sooner than they would otherwise have to or modified in a way that they shouldn’t have to be modified.”

“I think unfortunately a lot of this is about — I don’t want to say grandstanding — but taking the position for the public to look like, ‘These are our decisions. We’ve made them and we’ve moving on.’ The impact on people’s lives are worthy of a greater debate.”

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