Contact Us
Make My Homepage

Public Hearing Held on Governor Christie’s Budget Proposal [VIDEO]


The Assembly Budget Committee held its first public hearing Wednesday on Governor Chris Christie’s budget proposal for New Jersey.

The focus was funding for health, human services, senior, family and children’s issues.

There was overall support for Christie’s proposal from those representing New Jersey’s mentally and developmentally disabled. They were pleased it provides tens of millions of dollars in new funding.

However, Tom Baffuto, Executive Director for The Arc of New Jersey, said an area that has been overlooked is the providers of services. Community provider agencies would be the ones called upon to serve the 775 new individuals funded in the Governor’s budget proposal, on top of the thousands of others already receiving services.

Baffuto said there’s been no increase for providers in four years.

“Staff salaries, health benefits, fuel costs – all of these things have been going up, and there’s been no increase to address them,” Buffato explained.

He, along with Arc President Walter Bender, called for a three percent increase for provider agencies before the budget is signed into law.

Debra Wentz, Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, highlighted several provisions in the budget that are positive for children and adults who need community-based behavioral services. She indicated, though, financial replenishment is needed for the Special Needs Housing Trust fund.

Pleased with the proposed funding for human services, Candice Singer with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – New Jersey requested a hefty spike in the amount of funding dedicated to Christie’s proposed statewide Drug Court program. The program would make treatment mandatory for non-violent, drug-addicted offenders.

Singer said money saved on less imprisonment should be devoted to treatment and the proposed statewide system. She estimated 62-million dollars in savings.

Singer continued, “The Governor proposed two-and-a-half million dollars for that program, which is simply not sufficient.”

She said the proposed funding would serve about 200 offenders. Thousands would be entered into the program each year.

Two more public hearings are scheduled for March 14 and 20.

“With New Jerseyans having been dealt a net 20 percent property tax increase under Governor Christie, it’s more important that ever to hear what residents need to see in their state spending plan,” explained Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto (D). “We need their input as we move forward, and we will stay at each and every hearing until everyone who wants to speak is heard.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Best of NJ101.5

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for New Jersey Insiders quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive New Jersey Insiders contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.