SWEENEY, BURZICHELLI & RILEY: CHRISTIE PLAN TO CLOSE VINELAND DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER RAISES MANY CONCERNS

(3rd LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT.) – Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, Assembly Deputy Speaker John J. Burzichelli and Assemblywoman Celeste Riley on Tuesday questioned a plan included in Gov. Chris Christie’s budget proposal to close the Vineland Developmental Center.
The budget plan calls for closing both campuses of the facility by 2013, which will impact about 400 clients and leave nearly 1,700 South Jersey residents jobless. The 3rd District Democrats, who represent Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester counties, said the plan raises many concerns.
“Government’s job should be protecting our state’s most vulnerable residents, not arbitrarily eliminating the services that help them get by on a day-to-day basis,” Sweeney said. “The residents of the Vineland Developmental Center, their families and the employees deserve a thorough and complete explanation as to why the administration has targeted the center for closure.”
“This plan leaves us with many unanswered questions about the care of developmentally disabled New Jerseyans and the jobs of the working class residents who are dedicated to caring for them day-in and day-out,” Burzichelli said. “Tough decisions are needed to steer us through this difficult economy, but those decisions cannot place the heaviest burden on disabled residents and the people devoted to their wellbeing.”
“Cumberland County has the highest unemployment in the state,” Riley said. “We must not make short-sighted decisions that push nearly 2,000 hard-working middle-class area residents onto the unemployment line while also calling into question the future care of developmentally disabled residents.”