Monthly Archives: June 2010

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie signs an unbalanced budget

Good editorial from the Star-Ledger this morning dealing with the realities of the “unbalanced budget” signed by Gov. Christie yesterday:

“The budget signed yesterday by Gov. Chris Christie will reduce state spending for the third year in a row. The total now is roughly at the same level it was in 2005.

No serious person disputes the need for austerity in these times. We are headed in the right direction.

The pity is that this governor failed to demand the shared sacrifice that he himself made a central criteria for judging the final product. Yesterday, he continued to deny that central fact.

“We tried to spread the pain as evenly as we could,” he told a national television audience.

Here are the facts: The 16,000 families in New Jersey earning more than $1 millon will get an average tax break of $40,000 apiece under this budget. At the same time, a single mom working for minimum wage will pay $300 more in state taxes.


The biggest cuts in this budget are painful but unavoidable. That includes the deep cuts in aid to schools and towns, and in property tax rebates. His single biggest move was to short the pension fund by $3 billion. Together, those moves account for the bulk of the governor’s spending reductions.

The problem is the tax break. If the governor had not insisted on that, he could have softened the blow on the needy considerably.

He would not have had to increase taxes on that working poor mom, or make deep cuts in health care, affordable housing, child-care subsidies and school lunches.

So no, the governor is not spreading the pain. This budget plainly favors the wealthy.

Denying that fact doesn’t make it go away.”


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Filed under editorial, Gov. Chris Christie, NJ State Budget, the Star-Ledger

It’s Your Town Newsletter Volumn 2, Issue 12, 6/21/10: The Budget Presentation

This is the first of two newsletters coming this week due to the fact that there were two separate Township Committee meetings held on June 21,2010 this month.

This first newsletter deals with the special budget meeting held earlier in the evening before the regularly scheduled meeting of the night. It includes the presentation of the Township budget for calendar year 2010 (which began in January) that was given by Middletown’s CFO Nick Trasente.

The second newsletter coming later in the week will deal with the regular business meeting for the month.

Please read and pass this newsletter on to your friends in Middletown. This budget will affect every homeowners pocketbook, there is a 12.87% increase in our municipal taxes for this year. The budget is 63 pages and can be found here, it has comparissons of what was spent on line items from last year and because of this, residents will be able to see where the increases in the budget are.

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Filed under budget presentation, Its Your Town, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Nick Trasente, township budget

NJPP Monday Minute 6/28/10: WHY THE BUDGET FALLS SHORT FOR VULNERABLE FAMILIES

There has been much fanfare regarding the restoration of a few programs that serve vulnerable people in the FY 2011 budget. But make no mistake; the budget expected to pass the Legislature today requires the greatest sacrifice from vulnerable working families hit hardest by the recession.

Let’s put the restorations in perspective. They amount to about $68 million, not including PAAD which was restored in an earlier separate agreement, in a budget which would spend just over $28 billion. As the governor’s chief of staff pointed out, these restorations amount to only about two-tenths of a percent (.02%) of the total state budget. He thought that was a good thing.

The Anti-Poverty Network indentified 26 programs (see list below) that were cut in the Christie budget that primarily affect the most vulnerable: low and moderate income families; the elderly; and people with disabilities. The list is conservative in that it does not include program cuts to items such as transportation and education, which serve mostly middle class and higher income groups as well as large numbers of low income people. The budget restorations only fund seven of those programs, leaving $262 million in program cuts to the most vulnerable.

The largest restoration was in General Assistance, which provides temporary financial assistance to unemployed adults without children. The Christie budget would have eliminated the entire $140 a month stipend, which is often the only source of income they have. The Legislature and the governor are to be commended for at least partially restoring this vital safety net program.

However, the administration did not restore cuts to the two largest programs that help vulnerable families remain independent. State and federal funding for New Jersey FamilyCare, which provides affordable health insurance for children and certain low income parents or guardians, was reduced by about $100 million. Enrollment has already been closed for parents with incomes between 133 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($24,352 to $36,620 for a parent with two children). This cut will be continued in FY 2011 resulting in 39,000 uninsured parents being denied health insurance at the same time many employers are dropping health coverage. Also, about 11,700 legal immigrant parents who have been in this country less than five years and currently receive health insurance through FamilyCare will lose their coverage altogether.

The state Earned Income Tax Credit was cut by $45 million, which will in effect increase taxes for 485,000 lower income households. At the same time, the governor refused to continue higher tax rates on those in the uppermost brackets, households with more than $400,000 in annual income. About 77 percent of the households that received the state EITC are working families with children. A parent earning the minimum wage in a full time job ($15,000) with two children will see his or her taxes increase by $300 as a result of this action. Taxes for wealthy households, on the other hand, will be cut by thousands of dollars.

It is also disturbing that the governor has opposed legislation which would restore the funds for the state EITC, if federal funds become available specifically for this purpose. Congress appears likely to act on legislation that would make $120 million in emergency contingency funds available to New Jersey without costing the state a dime. But the administration has rejected a budget resolution from Sen. Shirley Turner which would require that if such funds become available in FY 2011 they would be used to restore the state EITC cutback.

While the budget treats each of these programs separately, the cutbacks will have a cumulative impact on vulnerable families. Virtually all of the families that will lose or be denied health coverage in FamilyCare will also have the state EITC reduced. Many of these same families will also be denied vital supports like family planning, school breakfast, legal services, and affordable housing. None of the cuts in these programs have been restored in this budget. The combined effect on some families will be devastating and have long term consequences for them and the state’s economy.

Attempts are being made to restore some of these funds to vulnerable families in separate legislation. Senator Loretta Weinberg has introduced a bill to restore funding for family planning and Senator Joseph Vitale and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald have bills to restore funding for FamilyCare. If these bills pass the legislature, however, the governor is likely to veto these bills, as he did when the legislature passed a millionaires’ tax increase a month ago.

What some see as fiscal conservatism might be seen by others as plain mean-spiritedness.

It would appear that the deal on the FY 2011 budget is final but the fight to protect and support struggling working families in this high cost state must continue.


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Filed under budget cuts, budget deficit, Gov. Chris Christie, Loretta Weinberg, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ FamilyCare, poverty, tax credits

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Aquaman – Menace Of The Black Manta

It’s that time again, pass the Cheerio’s and sit down for a new toon.

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President Obama’s Weekly Adress 6/26/10: Finishing the Job on Wall Street Reform

With Congress having finalized a strong Wall Street reform bill, the President urges Congress to finish the job and send the bill to his desk. The legislation reflects 90% of what the President originally proposed, including the strongest consumer financial protections in history with an independent agency to enforce them. It ensures that the trading of derivatives, which helped trigger this crisis, will be brought into the light of day, and enacts the “Volcker Rule,” which will make sure banks protected by safety nets like the FDIC cannot engage in risky trades. It also creates a resolution authority to wind down firms whose collapse would threaten the entire financial system. Wall Street reform will end taxpayer funded bailouts and make sure Main Street is never again held responsible for Wall Street’s mistakes.

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Filed under FDIC, financial oversight, President Obama, Wall St. Reform, weekly address

Behind Christie’s budget is the largest property tax hike New Jersey has ever seen

NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
BY STEVE LONEGAN

Rush Limbaugh is singing the praises of Governor Christie’s budget. National pundits talk of “spending cuts.” Some enthusiasts have gone as far as starting a “Christie for President” chant.

So many words. But as the big government spin machine rolls on, what is really happening?

Sweep away the bluster and the attitude, and behind it all is the largest property tax hike New Jersey has ever seen.

As was said of Bill Clinton’s budget in 1996 — “The era of big government is over — and all the programs are in place.” Underneath the hype that cocoons Christie’s budget is the fact that it grows state government by more than 6 percent — more than double the proposed 2.5 percent cap on local governments.

Beyond the rhetoric of phantom “spending cuts” is the fact that there are no layoffs in the bloated government payroll that exploded under the direction of Govs. Christie Whitman, James McGreevy and Jon Corzine. Every entitlement program is not just in place, but expanded. Property tax relief to suburban and rural taxpayers is reduced by an astonishing $2.56 billion.

Under Christie, New Jersey’s own Cap and Trade program is being implemented. This program not only mirrors, to the word, President Obama’s proposal, but places an enormous cost of $70 million on utility ratepayers this year alone.

And that’s not the only plank of the Obama agenda in the Christie budget. This budget implements the “public option” — called “family care” — and expands it by an astonishing $107 million, as the Christie administration announces its participation in the Obama “catastrophic pool.”

Christie’s budget expands entitlement programs as well, with food stamp eligibility expanded to 185 percent of poverty level, up from the traditional 135 percent.

Under this budget, state government grows at three times the rate of inflation. No departments are eliminated. No departments are consolidated. All bureaucrats remain in place and the central planners are in their glory.

Limbaugh, in common with other Christie cheerleaders, claims that the budget cuts spending by $11 billion. These are the infamous “phantom cuts” I spoke of earlier.

Here are the facts: The budget adopted by the Legislature in June of 2009 was $29.8 billion. The Christie budget spends $28.3 billion. Where’s the $11 billion cut?

The cut appears to be $1.5 billion, but where does it come from? Some $840 million of the cut comes from property tax relief in the form of school aid to primarily suburban school districts. Another $420 million comes from cuts to municipalities. And $1.3 billion in property tax rebate checks are eliminated.

This all adds up to a massive suburban property tax hike.

Are these real spending cuts — as in cuts that reduce the size and scope of government — or simply a cover story that hides a 6 percent spending increase?

Whatever it is, Limbaugh is buying it. It doesn’t matter to him that aid to taxpayers is cut by $2.56 billion, that the budget is down only $1.5 billion, with the other $1 billion being shifted to funding bigger government in Trenton.

State funding for pre-school programs, primarily in what used to be referred to as urban Abbott districts, is at a record $613 million, up from $593 million under Corzine. Christie called this “babysitting” during the election, but under him this “babysitting” is averaging more than $12,000 per child.

It’s shocking when you consider that places like Hoboken — with six-figure median incomes — were actually classified as Abbott districts and receive millions in free day care provided by Christie’s pre-school program.

Christie’s budget sends a record 60 percent of our income tax to these districts. Under Corzine the amount was 54 percent. Christie is doing to the suburbs what Corzine would never have succeeded in doing.

To further burden taxpayers, the runaway debt continues with the state borrowing an additional $500 million in new debt for school construction — primarily in the Abbott districts — without voter approval. The beleaguered State Pension System receives not a cent of the state’s required contribution, down from the $160 million budgeted by Corzine in 2009. This is not a cut — this is kicking the can down the road.

In this fragile housing market, homeowners can expect their home values to drop even further as buyers discount purchase prices due to higher taxes. The loss of school and municipal aid will drive up property taxes at a record pace, resulting in a corresponding loss in property values. This means a loss of annual income and a loss of wealth.

At a time when our nation is struggling to recover from a recession, this budget drives a dagger into our economic recovery. I wonder if Rush Limbaugh supports such policies?

Voters should urge their legislators to vote no on the Christie budget. A vote for this budget is a vote for record property tax hikes.

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, Middle Class, New Jersey, New Jersey Newsroom, property taxes, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Lonegan, tax increase

Could Middletown Have Introduced "THE HIGHEST TAX INCREASE IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY"

A reader sent along the following comment, it was too good to bury in the comments section so I’m posting it here on the main page for everyone read:

We may be the biggest small town in New Jersey, but we now hold a far more dubious distinction. The town with the highest tax increase in the State. When Gerry Scharfenberger proposed his budget Monday night it included a staggering 13.9% increase. When I hear Chris Christie talking about a 2.5% cap I really have to laugh, because his lapdog, Gerry (who was meeting with him the next day) is proposing a budget increase over 5 times that amount. Is this something Christie is going to let his local finance board approve? He said NO, but I really wonder what he will do for his pal Gerry.

One has to wonder why Scharfenberger, Fiore, Massell, and Brightbill support this budget? They all ran on platforms saying they would lower taxes and now they approve the highest tax increase in the state. At the meeting they claimed it was beyond their control. If that’s the case then they should resign so we can have committee member who will really work to control our taxes.

Is it any wonder why Sean Brynes and the rest of the town is clamoring for a Finance Committee? With a tax increase 0f 13.9% we need outsiders looking at this budget. The insiders certainly don’t understand that we can’t afford their budget plans.


Do you agree? It sounds about right to me.

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Filed under budget planning, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, Middletown, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase

You Can Fool Some Of The People Some of The Time, But…

Two more local media members have chimed in on the the smoke and mirror attempt by the Middletown Republicans lead by Gerry Scharfenberger, his fellow GOP members on the Township Committee and new CFO Nick Trasente, to whitewash, sugarcoat and flat out mislead the public with Monday night’s budget introduction.

As I said earlier, Trasente did a great job at towing the proverbial company line,making it seem the local tax burden was only going increase by 2.8% when in actuality the municipal tax rate will skyrocket by more than 13% once this budget is adopted.

The reporters for both the Independent and RedBankGreen.com, Andrew Davidson and Dustin Racioppi with their articles Township proposes tax increase of 13 percent and BUDGET INCREASES, BUT BY HOW MUCH? did a great job at seeing through the rouse and I recommend that both articles be read.

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Filed under budget introduction, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown GOP, Middletown Township, Nick Trasente, RedBankGreen.com, tax increase, the Independent

Middletown’s Budget Introduction Was A Farce And Blatant Attempt to Mislead The Public

Last nights special meeting to introduce the FY 2010 municipal budget was, to put it mildly, a farce and a blatant attempt to mislead residents and those in attendance into believing that all was well.
Middletown’s CFO Nick Trasente, presented a powerpoint slide show that did more to highlight how great Middletown’s FY 2011 budget would be as apposed to how dire a situation the Township was in this year. The spin attempt was mind-boggling and for anyone that had actually read or saw the proposed budget it was mind-blowing!
Trasente tried hard to spin the numbers in a positive way, he presented slides that tried to explain what the budget wold do, what were the cost drivers behind it and items that would not be in the 2011 budget, but he neglected to add that many of these items were not going to be one shot budget increases like he was inferring. Somethings like the retro active pay increase of $1.4M for the police and the $1.8M payment to fulfill the town’s pension obligations would be ongoing.
The biggest snow-job of the whole presentation was when Trasente presented the slide that introduced the proposed tax increase.
The Middletown tax rate will rise from 35 cent per $100 of assessed value to 39.85 cents, for an increase of 4.85 cents. This increase will mean that the average township home that is assessed at $437K will have their property tax increase by $211 a year. In order to make this increase seem palatable to residents, Trasente stated that the percentage increase in the overall tax bill for 2010 would only be 2.8%. It wasn’t until Committeeman Sean Byrnes questioned Trasente that the true tax numbers came to light.
Byrnes asked for clarification on the 2.8% budget increase and whether or not this increase was reflective of only the municipal tax rate or did it include the County and school taxes as well, at which point Trasente sheepishly admitted that the rate included all three.
Byrnes then went on to state that the true municipal tax increase to residents was closer to 13% and pointed out that there was no reason to believe, despite Trasente’s rosie picture of next years budget, that it would be any better.
Nick Trasente did mention however that as of this point the budget was not finalized, there still could be changes to seeing that the budget will not be officially adopted until mid July giving Committee members plenty of time to solicit ideas from the public and make further cuts like the elimination of Middletown day as an example.
If you want to read a different take on last nights meeting then you can read about it HERE. Kevin Penton of the Asbury Park Press was the first to have an article posted on he subject and while it lacks a few details about what went on, I have to give him kudos for seeing through the attempt at sugarcoating the budget presentation while attempting to present the facts.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, budget introduction, Middletown Township, municipal tax rates, Nick Trasente, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase

NJPP Monday Minute 6/21/10: Budget Sacrifices


WHAT IS SACRIFICED?

The Legislature will soon act on the emaciated $28.3 billion FY2011 budget proposal submitted in March by Gov. Christie, who told lawmakers in his budget address that the state’s dire economic situation necessitated deep cuts to every corner of state government and demanded shared sacrifice by all New Jerseyans.

Clearly, the recession is taking a tremendous toll on state and local finances. In New Jersey, where the constitution requires a balanced budget by July 1, the state has lost $6 billion in revenue from income, sales, corporate and other taxes the past two years, according to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services. In each of the past three fiscal years, the state budget has declined in its actual dollar amount, from $33.5 billion to $32.9 billion in 2009; to $29.8 billion in 2010; to the proposed $28.3 billion in 2011. Treasury Department records show that a decline in state spending from one year to the next is unprecedented in the modern history of New Jersey, let alone three smaller budgets in succession.

There are “winners” in this budget: corporations and the wealthiest individuals whose tax obligations will be lower this year. Those who stand to lose the most are disproportionately poorer, older and at greater risk of economic catastrophe than the rest of New Jersey. The sacrifice that the governor demanded in his budget address appears to fall almost entirely on middle and working class families, the disabled and seniors.

As part of the Better Choices for New Jersey coalition, NJPP has identified $1.6 billion in additional revenue and savings that would allow the state to avoid the worst of these cuts:

  • Restoring the marginal tax rate increase on those making over $400,000 a year would generate about $1 billion in revenue.
  • Increasing the motor vehicle registration fees on gas guzzlers could bring in $140 million.
  • Retaining the surcharge on corporate business tax liabilities and increasing it to eight percent instead of four percent would provide $160 million in revenue.
  • Closing corporate loopholes and instituting a system of combined reporting for businesses could save New Jersey taxpayers close to $250 million.
Democrats proposed restoring the marginal tax rate increase on those making $1 million or more, to 10.75 percent from 8.97 percent, for one year in order to restore about $600 million in property tax rebates to senior citizens and the disabled, but the governor vetoed the legislation. Democratic leaders are now lobbying to find the handful of Republican votes necessary to override the governor’s veto.

Without any additional revenue or savings, the FY2011 budget will be a blow to middle- and lower-income taxpayers and will devastate the programs that have for so long served as a safety net for the state’s most vulnerable residents. In addition, the reduction of $1.3 billion in state aid to public schools and municipalities means that local governments will have to lay off teachers, police and firefighters – something that affects us all.

Following is a look at some, but not all, of what is being sacrificed in the governor’s proposal.

Pubic Education

A cut of $832 million in state aid to public schools proposed for the FY2011 budget is in addition to nearly $400 million in cuts ordered in the last half of FY2010. The reductions have resulted in widespread layoffs of teachers and staff, as well as inevitable increases in property tax levies, largely because the $1.2 billion in cuts represents 10 percent of the $12.5 billion total statewide property tax collections levy in New Jersey.

But cuts to public schools go deeper, hitting working families who depend on state assistance for after school care and children from low-income families who often rely on meals at school for life sustaining nourishment. Among the proposals:

Eliminating all $3 million in state funding for the school breakfast program and cutting $2.4 million in state funding for the school lunch program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reimbursements will continue, but cutting the state subsidy for meals provided by school districts will likely raise the meal prices charged to kids, reduce the quality of meals served or create a deficit in the food service program. If food services are provided by a private company and the costs of meals are fixed by contract, fewer children will probably be fed.

Eliminating all $10.5 million in state funding for NJ After 3, a successful public/private partnership that works with local non-profit agencies who collectively operate 115 programs – in local Ys, Boys and Girls Clubs, Jewish Family Services, and other organizations – to provide safe, high-quality affordable after school programs in 29 towns for approximately 12,000 students.

Since its inception in 2004, this program has raised approximately $45 million in private financial support. With no state funding, it will fall on these investors to make up the state’s share.

Higher Education

Public colleges and universities would lose $173 million in state aid in FY2011, causing tuition to rise and driving the best and brightest students out of state after high school. The budget continues a downward spiral. State support as a share of college budgets has declined precipitously – from an average across all of the colleges and universities of 48 percent in 1990 to less than 14 percent in the FY2011 budget proposal.

Direct state aid is only part of the story, however. The Office of Legislative Services’ Higher Educational Services report estimates that available resources will be nearly 14 percent less than current year spending for college students and universities. Of the more than 30 detailed changes included in the OLS analysis, only one was an increased appropriation.

That increase was a $1.5 million bump to $20.1 million to continue the state’s obligation to fund the ongoing New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJSTARS) until it is phased out with the high school class that graduates in 2011. The program covers tuition and fees at the state’s 19 community colleges for any student who graduates in the top 15 percent of their high school class. The current budget is expected to support 2,100 students in college now, but incoming freshman students to county colleges, who do not already have a scholarship lined up, are out of luck.

The state’s other major financial aid program, Tuition Aid Grants (TAG), would see a cut of $10.9 million in FY 2011. Currently, one in three full-time New Jersey college students receives a TAG grant. The budget estimates that TAG appropriations will support 63,735 students in academic year 2010-2011, 924 more than in 2009-2010. It will support more students, in part, because awards to students at private colleges would be much smaller due to a reduction in the maximum size of these awards.

Transportation

In a state where one in ten commuters uses public transit to get to and from work, the administration cut $300 million in funding to NJTransit. In response, the agency was forced to cut service on some lines and to raise fares by an average of 22 percent – the second highest fare increase in history. A daily roundtrip between New Brunswick and Trenton will increase to $17 from the current fare of $11.75. As a result, NJTransit expects to lose five percent of its ridership, many of whom will choose to drive instead. The increases hit especially hard for low-income families who have no other transportation alternatives.

New Jersey’s failing transportation infrastructure will continue to crumble, too, because the administration is cutting $56.3 million from the Department of Transportation, one of the largest cuts in the agency’s history.

At the same time, Gov. Christie has steadfastly refused to consider a gas tax increase to pay for transit and transportation needs, saying it will harm the economy. Gas prices in New Jersey are low relative to most places in the country, largely because New Jersey has the nation’s third lowest gas tax.

Earned Income Tax Credit

Nearly half a million low-income households face what amounts to a tax increase as a result of Gov. Christie’s plan to reduce by 20 percent the state Earned Income Tax Credit.

The EITC is a federal and state program that helps low-wage working families make ends meet by rewarding work over welfare. State EITCs are calculated as a percent of the federal credit and are deducted from taxes owed. In New Jersey, 485,000 working families with children receive this credit. A parent raising two children and working in a full-time, minimum wage job ($15,000 a year) would see a reduction in the family’s state tax credit by about $300. The total loss to struggling households from this policy recommendation is a staggering $45 million.

The proposal may be penny wise and pound foolish, too, because of the impact of those cuts on the amount of federal funds New Jersey receives to support low-wage workers.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that includes the extension of TANF Emergency Contingency funds. If this legislation becomes law, New Jersey could receive up to $120 million in new federal funds in FY 2011. But if the state EITC appropriation is cut in this year’s budget, the state could lose money because the amount the federal government gives the state is based on how much the state has increased funding for benefits to low-income families since 2007.

Federal and matching programs

Outside the $28.3 billion budget proposal, the state likely will have about $12.5 billion available in federal funds for state programs in FY2011. The state has also budgeted for $1 billion in supplementary funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (about half the amount the state received last year).

Many believe the federal government determines how federal funds are spent. The reality is that the state often has considerable discretion in the amount of federal funds received by the state, as well as how those funds are used. In many case, the state’s proposed cuts to state funding of federal-state programs are magnified two, three or even nine times by the loss of federal funds.

  • More than 40,000 women in New Jersey will lose critical health services and education because state funding for family planning is eliminated in this budget. That $7 million loss is multiplied by the federal government’s 9-to-1 match, leaving low-income women without a dependable source for the basic health care they received through Planned Parenthood. The money is used to provide annual check-ups and other health care for women, but not abortions because federal law prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions.
  • The governor proposes to save $27 million by eliminating the monthly cash assistance of $140 to about 35,000 unemployed individuals, even though the federal government is making $90 million available in new federal funds to reduce the state cost for medical assistance to individuals . Instead of supporting some of the neediest residents of the state, the governor proposes to redirect those funds to balance the budget.
  • A $13.5 million cut to the state Rental Assistance Program means low-income tenants will lose access to vouchers that help them pay for food, rent and clothing.
  • A $39.6 million cut in cash grants through the Work First New Jersey General Assistance Program are likely to increase homelessness and hunger in the state.
  • Eliminating a program that provides orthodontic services to the poorest children in the state will save $4 million but costs the state $8 million because of a 1-to-1 match in federal funding.
  • People with disabilities and seniors will lose care that keeps them out of state institutions because of a proposed cut of $14 million in state funding of the Personal Care Assistance Program. Because the program receives $22 million in federal matching funds, the total reductions amount to $36 million less to pay for personal assistance to seniors and people with developmental disabilities.
  • Spouses of people with disabilities will lose $200 monthly payments that paid for care of their loved ones because the state proposes cutting the SSI caregiver supplement by $6.7 million.
  • A proposed $9.7 million cut to Legal Services of New Jersey means 11,000 New Jerseyans will lose access to legal services that assist with foreclosure, eviction, or situations of domestic violence.

FamilyCare

Perhaps the most stunning example of the administration’s disregard for the value-added in federal funding of social programs is its handling of New Jersey’s successful FamilyCare program- a state-federal program that provides access to health insurance for low-paid working families that don’t have coverage through their jobs and can’t afford the cost of private insurance.

The state proposes to save $24.6 million in state funds by closing enrollment in the program to parents in those families with incomes of more than $23,352 a year (133 percent of the federal poverty level), even though doing so will also cost the state $48 million in federal funds. Some 39,000 parents will be denied coverage. The total loss amounts to more than $70 million. .

The cut comes on the heels of an Executive Order by Gov. Christie that denied FamilyCare coverage to 11,700 legal immigrants who have been in the U.S. less than five years. The proposed budget also ends all state funding for FamilyCare outreach, making it impossible for the state to meet its goal of insuring all children by 2013. It will also result in the further loss of federal funds.

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Filed under better choices, budget sacrifices, Gov. Chris Christie, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective