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Legislature Begins Scrutiny Of Chris Christie’s Budget Plan [VIDEO]

People who oversee services for the mentally and developmentally disabled are saying they generally
support Gov. Chris Christie’s $32.1 billion proposed budget.

Debra Wentz, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agency, testifies
Debra Wentz, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agency, testifies before the Assembly budget committee. (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

But at least three of those testifying before the Assembly Budget Committee on Wednesday have asked for additional funds for housing for residents with special needs.

Debra Wentz of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agency applauded the appropriation of about $35 million for new programs to serve the disabled.

She urged committee members to continue supporting these services “because it is the right thing to do and will also foster the state’s fiscal recovery now.”

“It means a drastically reduced need for emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and as a result, dramatic fiscal savings amounting to billions of dollars each year,” Wentz explained in front of dozens of supporters.

Thomas Baffuto of the ARC of New Jersey asked that service providers get a 3 percent increase in state aid to help cover costs. He says provider groups haven’t seen an increase in four years.

Early testimony at the first legislative hearing on the budget has focused on health care provisions.

Dr. Debra Wentz

Video by Dino Flammia

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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