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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Daniel Santo-Pietro, LAN Public Policy Chair, delivered testimony on behalf of the Latino Action Network to the New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.   He focused his comments on the 12 items that have done the most harm to working families during the last three budget cycles.  The "Destructive Dozen", as Daniel called them, remain in the Governor’s FY2014 Budget. Daniel ended his testimony by calling for the passage of the In-State Tuition bill that would help immigrant students get a college education and urging the legislature to negotiate with the Governor to resolve the "Destructive Dozen" budget items and move our State forward.  Please read Daniel's testimony below:

MARCH 20, 2013

The Latino Action Network is a 501c4 organization with a Steering Committee comprised of Latino leaders from across the State from unions, community organizations, academia and professional backgrounds.  Our President is Frank Argote-Freyre, a well known historian and activist.  We are a membership organization with students and many other Latinos counted among our ranks.  We maintain a separate PAC and Foundation using social networking tools to involve a broad cross-section of people.  Our testimony and other documents can be accessed at our website and on our Facebook page.

Our testimony comes from the perspective of low to moderate income working families and owners of very small businesses who constitute the majority of Hispanics, a community that is often voiceless in Trenton .  Hispanics are approaching 25% of the population of New Jersey and increasingly they are actively pursuing their interests both nationally and locally. 

The Latino Action Network wants to draw your attention to the Destructive Dozen. We want to focus on the 12 items that have done the most harm to working families during the last three budget cycles.  The Destructive Dozen remain in the Governor’s FY2014 Budget.  We hope the Governor will reconsider his strategy of hurting the poor and helping the rich and we urge legislators to use their considerable power to probe the relevant departments during hearings and make changes in the budget where possible. The Governor never met a rich man he did not want to shower with tax breaks. His compassion for the wealthy knows no limit. The time has come to create a Commission that would investigate these trends and determine how a rich state like New Jersey can reverse them.


  1. New Jersey has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country.  Yet budget proposals for training and other employment initiatives are too few and far too little in dollars.  One such initiative led by the Hispanic community, Hispanic Women’s Resource Centers, saw their modest $500 thousand eliminated from the budget.  The Governor still seems to depend on grants to corporations to generate more jobs, but there is no convincing evidence it has worked in the past.
  1. The Governor’s veto of the minimum wage increase weighs most heavily on working families. LAN is in favor of the minimum wage increase to $8.25/ hr and will support it if it is on the ballot in November.  Combined with the Governor’s failure to move ahead on the increase of the State EITC, these two steps are a painful one-two punch to working families.

  1. Governor Christie in his first budget underfunded the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) by $1.6 Billion. This year Governor Christie’s proposed budget provides flat funding for 200 districts, mostly those that are economically disadvantaged.  The SFRA was a bi-partisan compromise that created a funding formula that allowed funds to follow the child no matter which district where they were enrolled.  The Governor’s arbitrary changes to the Formula reduce the weight given in the SFRA to at-risk children and English learners.  These changes mean that schools with large numbers of Hispanic children, mostly urban schools where working families have their children enrolled, will have to meet their formidable challenges with less resources.  Last year the legislature took out language in the Budget that would have permanently changed the formula, but left the revised funding formula intact.  This year you must correct the problem of appropriating less and less money to the children who need it most.  This is the type of basic mathematics that anyone can understand.

  1. In the context described above the proposed $2 Million for Opportunity Scholarships is a cruel joke.  It will help a few private schools with their enrollment but take away resources from the schools that must educate the overwhelming number of children of working families.  The voucher approach is not what New Jersey schools need to improve.

  1. Preschool funding in the Budget does nothing to expand preschool to districts that have sizeable number of children from working families.   The preponderance of evidence shows that the preschools opened in the 31 previous Abbott districts under court order have been a resounding success.  Hispanic children from lower income families, some with limited English, have caught up with other children in reading skills, vocabulary, even exposure to science and math.  This allows them to begin K-12 with a much greater chance to succeed.  The evidence is so great that President Obama has called for a national effort to provide preschool to all children.  We expected this budget at least to propose funding for more districts who want to expand preschools for at-risk children as a part of the public school program.
  1. Last year the Department of Human Services made eligibility for wrap-around child care so strict as to eliminate many families.  This service allowed working families to bring their children to preschool early and pick them up after three as needed to accommodate their working hours.  The new requirements caused many low income families to drop this service and in some cases to take their child out of preschool altogether. The most onerous is demanding verification of income with paystubs or W-2s that many Hispanics who work in micro businesses and part-time employment cannot satisfy.  The logic of preventing a few people from getting undeserved benefits by cutting off thousands from needed child care eludes me.  This is yet another blow to working families struggling to educate their child.

  1. The scarcity of funding for community after-school programs has left a void for many working families.  The addition of $1 million in the DOE budget for these programs will hardly replace programs previously cut from the budget or put in operation the needed programs to protect and nurture children who live in dangerous neighborhoods.  Please demand the details of this program and determine whether it will meet the demand for this service.

  1. The Governor’s decision to carry out the expansion of Medicaid which is a key element in ObamaCare was the right one.  Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the federal government will pay 100% of the cost to insure over 300,000 low income parents and childless adults.  On the other hand the Governor’s disparaging remarks in his Budget speech about the Affordable Care Act was misguided.  If fully implemented, the ACA has a goal of reaching near universal coverage and could cover about 800,000 low and moderate income New Jerseyans bringing the percentage of uninsured down from almost 20% to 8.8%, according to the State Center for Health Policy.  This is a goal worth achieving.

  1. The Center for State Health Policy identified Hispanics as the most significant segment of the “Changing Insurance Buying Public”, and among the most challenging to communicate with effectively.  The Governor vetoed the creation of a state-run marketplace for health coverage, but the State still has to cooperate fully with the federally run marketplace and support starting in October 2013 an enrollment process simple and accessible to working families who need it most.  The failure to include any funds in the State Budget for public education outreach aimed at working families who need assistance to understand what they have to do to gain coverage is a major missing piece.  Federal funding will pay for phone and on-line customer service, media announcements and a limited number of “Navigators” who will help people fill out forms, but community education and even door to door outreach is the key to getting eligible people subsidies to buy the health insurance available through the Marketplace starting January 2014.
  1. In the past three budgets, there have been deep cuts in community based programs aimed at low income Hispanics.  Cuts to the Division of Youth and Family Services partnerships with Hispanic community organizations, and elimination of Hispanic Women’s Resource Centers that taught English and computer skills tso that women, many immigrants, could secure employment, are among the more egregious examples.  The governor’s budget offers no hope of increases that will correct this unfortunate mistake of the last three years.  Now when Jose is having a problem with unscrupulous landlords, his limited English means he no longer has a place in his community to turn to for counseling about his rights.  Maria an 80 year old living alone no longer can get help with doing chores or some one to check on her well being.  Jaime has no after school program that his local community agency used to offer and has become a latch-key child because his parents have to work.  These are all examples of real damage to families caused by the Christie campaign against working families.

  1. Most regretful, the Governor dismantled the one agency in State Government aimed at giving Hispanics a voice in the State bureaucracy, the Center for Hispanic Policy (CHPRD).  He reduced its funding by 75% to $1 million and moved it to the Secretary of State where its mission was changed from supporting Hispanic initiated community programs to a vague small grant organization with virtually no interest in supporting Hispanic community initiatives.  LAN urges legislators to recommend changes to the performance of CHPRD.

  1. Finally, we end with the issue of taxes.  Last year the Governor proposed an across the board income tax cut, which would have given working families peanuts while offering the wealthy a bonanza.  Fortunately, it was not implemented.  The Governor speaks often of his effort to control increases on property taxes, a tax that weighs heavily on working families whether they own or rent a home.  We strongly urge him to abandon income tax cuts and concentrate on bringing property taxes down significantly.  Otherwise, working families will always be at a huge disadvantage. 

Some people call 2013 the Year of the Hispanic.  A Latin American Pope who has a love for the poor and a major drive for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in Washington to relieve all Americans from the broken and unjust immigration laws are two good signs. We even expect New Jersey to join Texas and California in granting all our immigrant children In-State Tuition.  We urge the legislature to negotiate with the Governor to resolve the Destructive Dozen budget items and move our State forward.

Presented by Daniel Santo Pietro, Chair Public Policy
Latino Action Network, PO Box 943, Freehold, NJ 07728

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Perth Amboy DREAM Team Presents: Coming Out of the Shadows!

The Latino Action Network is proud to support the Perth Amboy DREAM Team as they present:

Coming Out of the Shadows!

Friday, March 8, 2013
5:00 PM

Perth Amboy High School
300 Eagle Ave
Perth Amboy, New Jersey 08861

The Perth Amboy Dream Team is a fearless group of students that are fighting for a cause. We no longer want to be in the shadows and we will come out strong. We are undocumented unafraid and unapologetic.

Join us in this life changing event where we will come out with our stories through poems and songs.

There will be a series of performances and plenty of food.


LAN FYI: Announcing the 2013 NJALL Scholarships

Announcing the 2013 NJALL Scholarships

Now's the time! Please encourage eligible adult students to apply!

NJALL will award scholarships in June 2013 to two adults who have earned a NJ High School Diploma through a NJ adult education program by attending GED preparation classes or completing Adult HS requirements.The NJALL Scholarship provides up to $500 per semester for full-time enrollment in higher education, to a maximum of $4000.
Scholarship applications are open to anyone regardless of gender, race, color, religion, age, or disabling condition.

Eligibility and Application

The Committee will judge applicants based on demonstrated ability to meet educational and life challenges, motivation, need, realistic goals, and potential for success in higher education.

To Qualify an Applicant Must:

Be a resident of New Jersey.

Have earned a NJ High School Diploma through an adult education program in NJ by attending GED preparation classes or completing Adult HS requirements.

Have been accepted to an accredited post-secondary institution.

Complete and sign the application and include ALL required documents:

a. Copies of GED scores & HS Diploma OR Adult HS transcript and HS Diploma.

b. Proof of acceptance to an accredited post-secondary institution.

i. If currently attending, please include transcripts of your grades.

c. Two (2) letters of recommendation addressing ability to meet educational and life challenges, motivation, goals and potential for success in higher education.

Note: At least one of the letters must be completed using the "Educational Recommendation" form included in the application.

SUBMIT the completed signed application and all required supporting materials by US Mail, postmarked no later than April 30, 2013.

Applications postmarked after April 30, 2013 will not be considered.
Visit for eligibility information and application.

Click here for the application form.

For more information, email us at