Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), while relieved that the doors of the NJ After 3 program will remain open, questioned much of the decision-making behind the public/private partnership created by the Christie administration.
“It’s great that NJ After 3 is being saved. However, this would have been much more welcome news before the school year started, not conveniently right before an election and after much criticism has been levied against the Governor’s decision to defund this successful program.
“It’s unfortunate that the administration did not begin preparing to address this issue before funding ran out in July. At the Englewood program in my district, parents are now being charged double what they previously paid to compensate for the lack of funding and as a result nearly 15 percent of the families enrolled last year have been forced to drop out of the program.
“After school programming isn’t a political issue and I’m sorry to see the Governor playing politics with it like this.
“It’s also interesting that the organization the Governor has chosen to take over the reigns of the NJ After 3 program is run by wealthy hedge fund managers who have spent millions of dollars on ads singing his praises.
“The Governor might like to claim that the program had very little philanthropic support, but the facts tell a different story. Since 2004, the NJ After 3 program has received $31 million in matching cash contributions and in kind support from the likes of major corporations such as PSE&G, Capital One Bank, State Farm, PNC Bank, AT&T, Subaru, Campbell Soup, Merck, and Sanofi Aventis.”
Vainieri Huttle noted that last year Christie had proposed eliminating the entire $10 million in state funding that the program received. After fierce opposition from Democrats in the legislature, they were able to secure $3 million to help keep the program afloat. However, Christie once again proposed eliminating all of the state funding this year and despite Democrats reinserting the $3 million in the budget they passed, Christie excised it in its entirety with his veto pen.