TRENTON – It’s time for the care providers that the Division of Children and Families contracts with to get cost-of living increases, according to Assemblyman John Burzichelli, (D-3), of Paulsboro.
He said workers, such as those working in nursing homes, among other places, have gone six years in a row without such pay hikes.
“We’re concerned about that family of providers is being squeezed,” he said.
In response to a question from the assemblyman, DCF Commissioner Alison Blake said a 1 percent pay hike would mean $6 million would need to be budgeted. For each additional percent hike, another $6 million would need to be allocated, she said.
But Chris Brown, (R-8), of Medford, a self-proclaimed businessman, said whether the department could afford to provide the cost of living hikes is “based off of what the taxpayers can afford.”
He also took issue with some of the line of questioning by Democratic lawmakers whom he described as “ringing alarm bells” by making it look some care providers would go out of business, causing children to be kicked to the streets. That perception was being portrayed, despite favorable reviews of the department by national groups, according to Brown.
“Based on the scarcity of money, I don’t know what we’re doing wrong,” he said.
Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto, (D-32), Secaucus, acknowledged that revenues determine spending priorities, but added that “these people need to be compensated.”