Community Groups Criticize Christie Budget
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. March 12, 2013
A coalition of community groups is lining up against Governor Christie’s proposed state budget.
Bill Holland is executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance.
He says the budget does not contain new job initiatives but does provide tax breaks for corporations.
“Those are the sorts of policies that this governor seems to think will lead to a recovery, but the life reality of everyday New Jerseyans has demonstrated that’s false.“
New Jersey Policy Perspective President Gordon MacInnes is concerned that the budget does not include funding for an outreach program to expand participation in Medicaid.
“Yes it would bring in federal funds at a 100 percent rate. It will be new funds to stimulate the economy. It only works if we maximize the number of eligible recipients who sign up for the Medicaid expansion.”
Christie’s plan increases education aid by nearly a hundred million dollars, but Sharon Krengel with the Education Law Center says the state should do more.
“The total aid increase proposed in the budget amount to 1.2 percent which does not even keep pace with inflation. There is no aid increase at all for 202 school districts. 40 districts receive an increase of a dollar.”
New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel is disappointed there’s no money in the budget for the buyout of homes in flood prone areas.
“At a time when people are trying to decide whether they want to rebuild or not there is no money for buyouts. It means a lot of people who have been forced out of their homes who do not want to go back may have to spend money to rebuild and then get flooded again or get bought out later after they get flooded again.”
Assembly Budget Committee chairman Vinnie Prieto says lawmakers are still examining the budget plan but a big increase in funding for any particular group or program is not likely.
“Obviously a big jump would be very difficult. We’ll have to pick and choose and see what makes it on the table and what ends up on the cutting floor. So we’ll look long and hard to make sure we do educated decisions.”
Preito says state revenues are still a concern.
“There was a lot of talk about a Jersey comeback. We’re still nowhere near there. We’re still going into the woods. We’re not coming out of the woods yet.”
© 2013 WBGO News
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