Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic), a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, issued the following statement on the FY20-21 spending plan:
“In these unprecedented times, New Jersey communities have pulled together to help each other get through this public health crisis. A State fiscal spending plan that puts our most vulnerable first, as we continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19 on our economy and our families, was necessary to ensure our state’s recovery.
“Seniors, not only in my legislative district but across the state, will be happy to hear of the full restoration of the Homestead Rebate and the Senior Freeze property tax programs.
“Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to include New Jerseyans age 21 to 65 increases the impact of one of the most important poverty relief programs in the nation. It will now reach more than 40% of residents living below the federal poverty level. This was important in giving those who desperately need it a hand up.
“When you look at the parents, who have been struggling to pay for child care, a $500 child care tax credit may not seem like a lot, but for many, it will help.
“Restoring the school-based youth services program for our youth was an important step, especially during this time of Covid-19 when young people are facing monumental stresses in their lives and these programs are their only outlet.
“More importantly, during the past 8 months, there have been many New Jersey households, who have not been able to afford one basic need: food. Many organizations, in various communities, have collaborated to help fill those stopgaps, so families wouldn’t go hungry. The $14 million for hunger relief programs included in the budget is a welcomed relief.
“This pandemic has shed a glaring light on many longstanding concerns in our communities— hunger, educational opportunity, digital divide, senior care are only a few. Now, it is not only imperative to have the funding in place for essential programs but lives depend on it. We all have had to look at our human responsibilities differently due to the pandemic. We must continue to work together through the times ahead.”