Intends to Push Again for Work First New Jersey Boost
(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto on Thursday joined with anti-poverty advocates at the State House and announced that once again he will push to increase assistance for New Jersey’s poorest residents in the upcoming state budget.
Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen) has made combating poverty and rebuilding New Jersey’s middle-class a priority. Last year, for instance, he proposed (A-30) increasing the maximum cash assistance benefit for families and individuals participating in the Work First New Jersey program, only to see it vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie. It would have been the first such increase in 30 years.
The Speaker said he intends to push again for the Work First New Jersey increase, along with boosting other anti-poverty programs such as legal aid.
“The governor’s veto was unconscionable, but our effort to rebuild New Jersey’s middle-class continues,” Prieto said. “When you consider that New Jersey’s TANF assistance is the 7th lowest of all states and that it’s represent only 25 percent of the federal poverty level, it’s clear we must do more. The assistance is $424 a month for a family of three, but would be $932 if it simply kept pace with inflation. I pushed for this change last year and won’t give up. This isn’t about politics. This is about doing the right and moral thing.”
The Speaker also said he supports increasing aid to Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides advice, information and referrals to low-income people in civil legal matters.
“Every dollar counts and the budget is always tight, but a budget is about priorities,” Prieto said. “Helping our most vulnerable residents makes smart fiscal sense. The issues that come with poverty are expensive and add up over time. If we can resolve them before they take root, everyone will save money in the long run. The Assembly will continue to combat poverty and looks forward to working cooperatively with the Senate and – hopefully – the governor to accomplish our goal.”