Nannies and charter schools versus no-show jobs and dead beats.
As the Senate reconvened this morning and Democrats put Gov. Chris Christie’s Republicans on the record as opposing defunded programs, lawmakers tangled hard on the issue of New Jersey After 3, an after-school program for at-risk children.
Bill sponsor state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20) wanted restoration of funding to the Department of Education for the 5,000 children in NJ After 3, and criticized the GOP for being heartless in backing up the governor’s cuts.
“More than 500 after-school educators will lose their jobs; and this will undoubtedly lead to an increase in crime,” said Lesniak as he and his party attempted the override of Christie’s veto.
“How many body blows do the working poor of this state have to endure before Gov. Chris Christie determines they have suffered enough?” Lesniak asked. “My Republican colleagues… you can choose to unburden your souls.”
In response, state Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-39) let it rip.
“They just want more and more spending, and jusify it so that money can be spent,” Cardinale said in response to the majority party. “There is no evidence any good has come out of this program, that there is any comparison between those in the program and those who are not.”
Then Cardinale called out the Democrats on their motives for wanting the program restored.
“How many no-show jobs are going to be produced?” he wanted to know.
That prompted state Sen. Richard Codey (D-27) to come out of his chair.
“This is not about no-show jobs,” he said. “Maybe we should talk about charter schools that have no accountability.”
The no-show jobs attack line by Cardinale prompted more counters from other Democrats.
“Please feel free to report that to any of us,” state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) told her fellow Bergen County senator.
Stung by the no-show argument by the GOP, Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-18) tried to hit Republicans where it hurts.
“Not everyone has a nanny,” she said.
“I understand single parent households,” he said. “I was raised in one. I understand cities. I grew up in one. This program is $3 million. That’s a lot of money per child (1,000 to 5,000) compared to one million kids in the state. This is not a cost-effective program. It is an example of a particular interest to fund someone’s project. It’s someone’s individual project. I don’t think it’s fair to the taxpayers of the state to ask them to fund a narrow interest.
“No show, low show or sometimes show,” the GOP senator added later, which prompted state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) to intervene.
“If you have proof of no show jobs, you should turn it over to the attorney general,” Sweeney told Cardinale.