Latino Action Network Critical of
Governor Christie’s Budget Choices
No Sharing of Sacrifice; Poor and Middle Class
Shoulder the Burden
For Immediate Release: March 29, 2010
Frank Argote-Freyre, Interim Chair – 908-670-0552
Daniel Santo Pietro, Steering Committee Member – 732-496-9628
The Latino Action Network [LAN] today denounced the budget choices made by Governor Chris Christie in developing his 2010-2011 budget because of his emphasis on cutting programs effecting the poor and middle class and his failure to call for any sacrifice from the wealthiest members of the New Jersey community.
The LAN is dissecting the New Jersey budget presented by Governor Christie and plans to issue a short policy paper on the subject in the next few weeks. An initial review of the budget finds numerous objectionable policy decisions that adversely impact the poor and middle class.
Below is a list of some of the most undesirable budget policy decisions:
*** The elimination of 11,700 legal immigrant adults from FamilyCare programs. As far as can be determined there are no efforts to find alternate treatment plans for those suffering from chronic illnesses. They will simply be jettisoned from the program without any concern about their future. This cut will commence as of April 1 and is kept in place in the coming budget year. The Governor’s budget also freezes enrollment for all adults. The family income of those effected ranges between $18,000 and $36,000.
*** The elimination of the Center for Hispanic Policy Research and Development. The Governor’s program eliminates the $3.6 million in funding for the Center that has existed since 1975. These funds help maintain social service agencies across New Jersey and several of these agencies will most likely close as a result of these cuts. This is also a reversal of a campaign pledge by Candidate Christie to keep the Center open. The Center co-funded with the Division of Youth and Family Services extensive family strengthening programs that annually assist 300,000 mostly Hispanic low-income families a year resolve problems before they threaten the stability of families. An additional $3 to $4 million in matching funds from a variety of sources will be lost as a result of the governor’s decision.
*** The Department of Children and Families was cut by $4.59 million that go to help families in crisis to resolve housing, employment and health care issues. These programs offer bilingual, bicultural assistance to a population that will not find similar alternative services in their communities.
*** A wide variety of community grants will be cut including funds for the “NJ After 3” program that provides after school programs at 114 public schools across New Jersey in many economically disadvantaged areas. In addition, the governor’s budget cuts $5.3 million in funds to help low-income families pay for preschool beyond the limited hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The State Department of Human Services plans to achieve this savings by lowering the threshold for parents to make a co-payment to around $35,000. A reduction in this program will be a major blow to the families of 55,000 children enrolled in preschools, about half of whom are Latino.
*** Many of these cuts could be avoided by maintaining the surcharge on incomes exceeding $400,000 which lapsed. Last year this surcharge produced nearly $1 Billion in revenue.
“There is little sharing of sacrifice in the Christie budget,” said Frank Argote-Freyre, interim chairperson of the Latino Action Network. “We recognize the difficult financial situation the governor found upon taking office, but his budget decisions amount to a reverse Robin Hood strategy. Christie takes from the poor so he doesn’t have to ask anything of the rich.”
Daniel Santo Pietro, a member of the LAN Steering Committee and recently retired as Executive Director of the Hispanic Directors Association, made the following observations: “A recent study shows that over 20% of New Jersey’s working families do not earn enough to match the cost of living in New Jersey. The cuts we point out coupled with others such as those in the State Earned Income Tax Credit Program are an assault on working families. Hispanics will be among the hardest hit.”