TRENTON – State Senator Joseph F. Vitale, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement regarding today’s budget panel hearing on the FY 2008 Department of Human Services budget:
“The Department of Human Services is possibly the largest department in State government administering such diverse programs as group housing for the mentally ill, early intervention for the developmentally disabled, and rental and heating assistance for the working poor.
“Without a strong sense of conscience guiding the ship, the task of leading Human Services can be daunting. Luckily, the Department has an effective advocate and administrator in Jenn Velez.
“While we recognize that resources are scarce in this year’s budget, we are continuing to provide State assistance to the programs that mean so much to millions of New Jerseyans.
“We’re moving forward with expanding FamilyCare health care access to the uninsured, by expanding coverage for enrolled adults who earn 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. We’re providing a needed Cost of Living Adjustment for the community providers who work with the State’s mentally ill or disabled. We’re increasing community residential placement for those living with developmental disabilities, and we’re improving conditions at our State’s developmental centers.
“There’s always room for improvement, and I hope that, as resources become more available, we can do more to help the most vulnerable citizens served by the Department of Human Services. But in a lean budget year, I’m glad to see that New Jersey is honoring its commitments, and meeting its obligations to those in need.”