Cunningham And Stack Sign-Off On Budget With Promise Of Restored Funds For Residents

Senator Sandra Cunningham listens to testimony during the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing.

TRENTON – State Senators Sandra Bolden Cunningham (D-Hudson) and Brian Stack (D-Hudson) today announced that they voted for the FY2011 budget, citing significant givebacks and concessions on the governor’s part to restore funds to programs which benefit the State’s poorest and neediest residents.

As the deadline to pass the State budget quickly approaches, and with the threat of State Government going into a full shutdown, local officials agreed that concessions made recently by Governor Christie are a sign that both sides of the political aisle are working together to help New Jerseyans get through these tough financial times.

According to the State Constitution, a balanced budget must be passed by June 30. Gov. Christie had promised to shut down the government if such is not the case. The recent compromise on $180.7 million to Governor Christie’s $29.3 billion budget will be matched with cuts in other areas or generated by new revenue sources.

Senators Cunningham and Stack, along with their Senate and Statehouse colleagues, fought for the restoration of funding to programs which would benefit their constituents, as well as residents across the State who are the most in need.

Last week Governor Christie and State lawmakers compromised on proposed cuts within Christie’s proposed FY2011 budget. The restorations would allocate over $200 million in funding for various programs for students, the disabled and others who rely on much-needed State funding.

Of the more significant concessions made by the Governor’s office was the funding restoration to the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) program, an infusion of $48 million that would fund various business incentive and development programs. Other areas of restoration include: $22 million for general assistance to the State’s poorest residents; $10. 3 million restored for personal needs allowance for community-based developmental disability clients; and $9.6 million for personal care assistance.

“There is no question that this budget process has honed our ability to focus on those who are most challenged and most in need during what are truly crippling economic times,” Cunningham said. “The restoration of these funds shows that we are able to put aside politics, and do what needs to be done for the people of New Jersey. This was a very difficult vote. Though we did not get everything we wanted, we were able to find common ground to fund the UEZ programs, and look out for the day-to-day needs of the most vulnerable citizens of this State.”

“Throughout the budget process, I had to remain mindful of the needs of the local constituency, just as I have worked to ensure the preservation of programs which are vital to the legislative district,” said Senator Stack. “I am satisfied that assistance will continue to be received by those who are most in need during these difficult economic times.”

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Senators Cunningham and Stack also fought ardently for the restoration of educational assistance funding, which led to the restoration of the following: $10.9 million in restored tuition assistance grants; $3 million for New Jersey After 3 after school programs in urban school districts; and $1.3 million to the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), which helps urban and minority students to attend college.

Other programs where funds have been restored are: $3 million for Sheltered workshops for disabled residents; roughly $2.4 million for Adult medical day care; $1.4 million for the Center for Hispanic Policy; $1 million for the NJ STARS Scholarship Program; $800,000 for respite care. #