TRENTON — A state union leader said she regrets her crude response to a news story about federal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' plan to cut funding for Special Olympics.

"I hope she dies a horrible death," CWA State Director Hetty Rosenstein wrote on Twitter in response to an NBC News story about DeVos. Her reply was posted by the New Jersey Globe.

DeVos had proposed cutting $17.6 million from the Department of Education's budgeted donation to the Special Olympics, which accounts for 10 percent of the group's revenue. In a statement defending the cut, DeVos said she has personally donated to Special Olympics but it's unaffordable for the government to support.

"There are dozens of worthy nonprofits that support students and adults with disabilities that don't get a dime of federal grant money," DeVos wrote.

President Donald Trump has since backed off from the plan, saying Thursday that "I've overridden my people for funding the Special Olympics."

In a statement obtained by NJ.com, Rosenstein said she said something out of "despair that I regret" and carelessly gave into her own "pain" over the proposal. As a leader, Rosenstein said she should have come up with something inspirational.

The proposed budget cut also was criticized by State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who called it "sad" and “inexcusable and unacceptable” to use the money to fill budget holes. Sweeney's daughter, Lauren, has competed in the Special Olympics.

"The loss of inclusive sports for people with disabilities would be devastating to countless athletes & families, my family included - shame on you," Sweeney wrote on his Twitter account.

"Individuals with disabilities are not charity, they are people. Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training & competition and has a lifelong impact on everyone involved."

Sweeney got the backing of the New Jersey State PBA, whose members are heavily involved in Special Olympics.

"Our members put in tireless efforts to help out and raise money for Special Olympics. These athletes deserve the support of all us. We will ALWAYS be there for Special Olympics New Jersey!"

Many officers participate in the annual Polar Bear Plunge in Seaside Heights to raise funds for the games and participate in the annual Torch Run that brings the game's olympic flame to The College of New Jersey campus.

More than three quarters of Special Olympics national revenue comes from individual and corporate contributions and other fundraising efforts.

The Special Olympics' 2017 annual report, the most recent available on its website, says the group received $148 million in revenue that year, including $15.5 million from federal grants.

More than three quarters of the group's revenue comes from individual and corporate contributions and other fundraising efforts.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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