Greenwald, Chiusano spar over motives for budget hearing

TRENTON – A quarrel took place today between Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald, (D-6), of Voorhees and Gary Chiusano, (R-24), of Sparta, regarding the purpose of the meeting called for today to take testimony regarding the effect of the governor’s budget cuts.

Chiusano questioned Greenwald about why he didn’t invite the head of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Vito DeSantis, to explain about service interruptions, given that there were parents at the hearing who claimed interruptions had occurred.

“Why are we here today,” he asked. “I would’ve wanted him here today.”

Greenwald pointed out that the commissioner had actually just texted Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, (R-12), Little Silver, assuring him the Commission would address the matter. He added that the hearing was intended to hear from the people.

Chiusano then said the motive behind the meeting was not so much about finding answers.

“This is about the election,” he said. “It’s about criticism of the administration.”

Greenwald disputed that claim, saying “I’m not here gleefully saying, “I was right,” that the budget cuts would cause a problem.”

Chiusano said the television cameras are recording and will televise the hearing, to which Greenwald pointed that many cameras aren’t at the hearing, and he told Chiusano, “you eliminated NJN in the process.”

That was a reference to the five-year deal given to WNET to take over for NJN that the administration approved.

Greenwald told Chiusano that he could run the hearings the way he wanted when he becomes chairman, but cautioned, “you’re going have to jump over Declan to get there.”

Both remarks were met with shock from some audience members.

Chiusano added the purpose of the hearing was to “try to dramatize this and use these people as pawns to serve someone’s purpose.”

But Greenwald insisted they weren’t invited guests.

“No one drugged these people. Many of them asked to come.”

Chiusano said that there should have been a roundtable with the executive director.

Greenwald responded, “I didn’t ask them to go on vacation.”

Greenwald, Chiusano spar over motives for budget hearing