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Preview: Senate Budget Panel To Assess Health And Senior Services, Corrections

TRENTON – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will resume its assessment of Governor Codey’s $27.4 billion budget proposal on Monday by focusing on the spending requests for the Departments of Health and Senior Services and Corrections.

A primary concern of the panel will be how New Jersey will cope with plans by the Bush Administration to implement the new Medicare drug benefits without disrupting the delivery of prescription benefits to low income seniors and the disabled through the existing PAAD and Senior Gold programs.

The panel also will examine the State’s efforts to provide primary health care services for medically underserved populations through community health centers.

The Senate committee will begin its review at 9:30 a.m. in Room 4 of the State House Annex and will hear first from the Department of Health and Senior Services. The Department of Corrections will testify at 2 p.m., to be followed by the State Parole Board.

For Corrections, the panel will examine its efforts to privatize various corrections services ranging from medical exams to mental health treatment to food delivery systems for the inmate population.

The committee also will assess the most effective security systems at state prisons in light of the violence-prone gang segment and the need to provide adequate security to the corrections officers, particularly after the violent inmate uprising at Bayside State Prison on January 1st.

The addition, the committee will review the expenses related to overtime payments and whether the existing system sanctions abuses which should be rectified.