Assembly plans hearings on Christie budget cuts

TRENTON – The Assembly Budget Committee will meet on Tuesday to hear testimony on planned cuts to various programs that serve children and working-class families.

Several line-items calling for additional spending in the $30.6 billion budget that was passed by Democrats were vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald said the meeting – which will start at 10 a.m. in Room 11 – will examine the impact of the cuts.

“Gov. Christie’s cuts hit working-class New Jerseyans hard across the board, but his cuts to vital programs for children are among the harshest anyone has ever seen,” Greenwald said in a statement. “The impact of these cuts demands immediate attention, and we’re committed to trying to find a way to make sure these programs continue to serve children suffering through horrific cases of abuse, illness and poverty.”

Among the cuts the Democrats take issue with:

  • · Eliminated $537,000 for Wynona M. Lipman Child Advocacy Center, which serves abused children.
  • · Chopped $5 million from child behavioral health services.
  • · Sliced $7.9 million from the early childhood intervention program that helps children with developmental disabilities.
  • · Cut $1.5 million for teachers for children who are blind and visually impaired.
  • · Eliminated $3 million for the successful NJ After 3 child care program for working parents.
  • · Eliminated language designed to improve services for Head Start programs in suburban and rural school districts.

The Senate just spent two days trying to override vetoes of many of these items but failed.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) and Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex) have been vocal in their concern about the Lipman Center cut.

“We’re not talking about political hacks here,” Oliver said in a statement. “We’re not talking about pork spending. We’re not talking about special interests. We’re talking about abused children. We’re talking about traumatized children. We’re talking about protecting and healing the most innocent amongst us. Many of the governor’s cuts are heartless, but this is inexplicable. This is sickening.”

“This cut by the governor shows a callous indifference to the plight of some of our most vulnerable,” Spencer said in her statement. “This center has been a beacon of hope for thousands of children who have been subjected to unimaginable horrors. I don’t blame the governor for refusing to defend his cuts because many, like this one, are indefensible.”

Republicans, such as Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, (R-13), of Middletown, have countered about the Lipman center cut that there are many centers throughout New Jersey that serve the same purpose, but don’t receive state funding. Instead, they largely rely on philanthropic donations.

 

Assembly plans hearings on Christie budget cuts