TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney today issued the following statement in response to Sen. Marcia Karrow’s criticism of the city of Bridgeton:
“At last week’s Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing, I was troubled by Senator Marcia Karrow questioning the appropriateness of the City of Bridgeton receiving Special Municipal Aid from the state while the city still maintains a free zoo. Her statement that the Corzine administration ‘pampers’ Bridgeton and other distressed cities is not supported by the facts.
“Coming as she does from the 13th wealthiest county in the United States of America, I would have hoped Senator Karrow could spare a little more empathy for Bridgeton, which has the second lowest per capita income in New Jersey. To begrudge the hardworking people of Bridgeton the zoo they established 75 years ago, and which is freely available to all, betrays a disappointing lack of generosity.
“Senator Karrow is well within her rights as a legislator to question the $1.8 million that was approved for Bridgeton. But when you consider that her own 23rd Legislative District has in the past five years enjoyed $137 million in Farmland Preservation grants – one quarter of all the Farmland money given out over that time – and another $88 million in Green Acres open space preservation grants – her concern over whether it’s appropriate to send taxpayer dollars to Bridgeton rings hollow.
“Everyone realizes we are in the middle of one of the worst economic downturns in recent history. The Legislature’s review of Governor Corzine’s budget proposal needs to be exhaustive and thorough. We need to carefully go through the budget and look for savings and efficiencies everywhere we can. But targeting individual spending items – especially those aimed at providing a little relief to the second poorest city in New Jersey – because of their sound-bite value is not going to get us where we need to be.”