The Latino Action Network is a grassroots organization composed of individuals and organizations that are committed to engaging in collective action at the local, state and national levels in order to advance the equitable inclusion of the diverse Latino communities in all aspects of United States society.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Latino Action Network Critical of Governor Christie’s Budget Choices

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.”

Monday, March 15, 2010

Latino Action Network Urges Governor Christie to Maintain Commission on New Americans

Network Urges Governor Christie to Maintain Commission on New Americans

“Voice for Immigrant Community in New Administration”

For Immediate Release: March 15, 2010
Christian Estevez, Steering Committee Member – 973-418-7012
The Latino Action Network [LAN] today called on Governor Chris Christie to maintain the Commission on New Americans as a voice for the immigrant community within his administration.

“The Commission provides an opportunity for the Christie Administration to continue the conversation about how to best integrate New Jersey’s growing immigrant community into the economy and culture of New Jersey,” said Christian Estevez, a member the LAN Steering Committee and formerly a member of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Policy.

“The establishment of the Commission was an important recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Panel and we hope Governor Christie will maintain it,” Estevez continued. “Immigrants are vitally important to the future of New Jersey and they need to be represented in the government.”

The Christie Administration is currently reviewing all existing commissions and government agencies to search for savings to the taxpayers. “All of the members of the Commission are volunteers dedicating their time and resources, so there is little or no cost to the state,” Estevez noted.
New Jersey is one of the immigrant gateways to the nation and it has one of the largest foreign-born populations in the country. Immigrants make up 28 percent of New Jersey’s workforce and bring in 23 percent of all earnings.