NEWARK – Senator Ronald L. Rice released the following statement today following news that Newark will provide salary increases to many higher paid employees only days after the city was awarded $45 million as part of the State’s Distressed Cities funding:
“We are all aware of the tough budget decisions our State had to make this summer. Today, many families, especially low and middle-class families, are struggling to get by, and I am concerned that we are about to force our hard-working taxpayers to foot salary increases for many who already make between $130,000 and $178,000 a year.
“When my fellow Essex County officials, especially those in Newark, learned about a serious need for emergency funds to plug a large gap in their budget, we all fought hard to see that funding for the most critical services was found.
“I was able to help secure $45 million as part of a Distressed Cities fund, for Newark, but I wanted to make sure that the city would not be given a blank check on spending. As a condition for the funds, the State Department of Community Affairs and the State Department of Personnel is to have final approval over salary increases.
“Although millions of dollars were promised to Newark, tough cuts were still needed to be made by local officials. Many lower wage employees were let go. What makes these cuts so difficult to accept is that, while the low and middle-class employees had to be cut, many non-union workers making well over $100,000 a year were given raises.
“I did not fight so hard for emergency funding for Newark so that the rich could get richer. Although I believe raises are needed, especially for lower wage earners struggle to make ends meet in our current national economic crisis, this is simply not the time. We should not allow the poor and middle-class to lose their jobs, in order to fund salary increases for those at the top.
“I urge the State Department of Community Affairs and the State Department of Personnel to reject the salary increases, and I ask the Mayor and the council members to rescind the raises because the residents of New Jersey should not have to shoulder this kind of spending.”