Cunningham: Corners Must Be Cut, But Not At The Expense Of Those Who Can Least Afford Them

Senator Cunningham in the Senate Chamber

NEW BRUNSWICK – Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson, today released the following statement highlighting her concern about proposed cuts to health care and education funding within Governor Corzine’s proposed Fiscal Year 2009 budget. Senator Cunningham and other members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee heard testimony today from representatives of municipalities, interest groups and organizations at a hearing held at Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus.

“First and foremost, I’m concerned about many of the proposed cuts within this budget. I understand the necessity of freeing up funds to help improve New Jersey’s fiscal standing, but it is imperative that we look at the people who will be affected by the reductions in aid.

“I look at the roughly $108 million in funding that is slated to be cut for Charity Care, and that worries me because so many residents in our urban areas, in particular, lack adequate health insurance. Often, when residents don’t have health insurance, they rely on emergency room doctors to serve as their primary care physicians. Significant cuts to Charity Care combined with the increasing number of hospital closures would leave many residents in the 31st District and throughout the State, without access to quality health care.

“I look at one hospital in my district that is slated to close – Jersey City’s Greenville Hospital, which is located in a predominately black area of the city. When Greenville’s doors are closed for good, residents will have to travel even further to get the medical care that they need. We cannot allow this situation to replay itself over and over again – our urban hospitals are absolutely necessary, and cannot be included in the laundry list of proposed cuts.

“I am also worried about cuts to higher education funding. During today’s hearing we heard from James Kline, a Rutgers student who testified that one major way to stimulate New Jersey’s economy is through investing in the workforce. Significant cuts in higher education funding will reduce New Jersey’s ability to build a highly-qualified workforce, as well as its ability to retain quality workers.

“In my district, there are four colleges. The largest of the four, New Jersey City University, stands to receive a 10% reduction in funding from last year’s levels. The local community college, Hudson County Community College could also see a reduction in funding. The ‘brain drain’ is a reality, and if we are not able to make college affordable for our students, we risk losing them for good.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, as well as with legislators from both sides of the aisle, to find ways to free up funding for the FY2009 budget. I understand that corners must be cut, but we cannot do so at the expense of those who can least afford them.”

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