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Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee Holds First Public Hearing In Camden

CAMDEN – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today held its first Fiscal Year 2010 public hearing at Rutgers Camden Law School. Present were Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison and former NJ Supreme Court Chief Justice Deborah Poritz.

The Committee heard testimony from students from Camden’s LEAP Academy University Charter School, representatives of the State’s mental health and disabled communities, as well as the State’s gaming industry.

“The testimony we heard today came from residents from all walks of life,” said Senator Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, who chairs the Senate Budget and Appropriations panel. “I think this budget will be different than in past years simply because of the current economic climate. It is the responsibility of this Committee, and of our colleagues in both the Senate and the Assembly to make sure that the needs of residents are met. This year we’ll have to do more with less, but I am confident that we will be able to maintain the key programs on which some of our neediest residents have come to rely.”

“This budget process is not going to be easy, and knowing that, it is imperative that the members of this Committee work together to ensure that we are able to maintain the programs that allow many of our residents to continue to live and thrive in the Garden State,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “You can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats its groups who are least able to do for themselves. Cuts will be made, but I am confident that we will be able to make the tough decisions necessary to enable programs that benefit our youth and disabled populations, in particular, to keep running smoothly.”

“During today’s hearing we heard testimony from students from Camden’s own LEAP Academy University Charter School, extolling the virtues of charter schools and asking the Committee to help maintain funding for schools around the State,” said Senator Dana Redd, D-Camden and Gloucester. “The LEAP Academy is a shining example of the exceptional educational opportunities that charter schools can afford our students. I have always been a firm believer in the idea that education can open doors, and I look forward to helping to craft a budget that provides increased funding for New Jersey’s hard-working students.”

The next public hearing is scheduled for 9 AM on Tuesday, March 24 at Montclair State University.