TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Jim Whelan which would create a dedicated funding mechanism for after-school programs for at-risk kids from a 0.5% surcharge on any New Jersey Lottery winnings of $600 or more was approved yesterday by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee by a vote of 3-2.
“We know that after-school programs, particularly those geared towards at-risk kids, are valuable to the communities that they serve, but they’re still not off-limits when it comes to the State budgeting process under Governor Christie,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “Last year, the Governor eliminated funding for NJ After 3 – probably the most successful model of what these programs can be – and only after weeks of limbo were we able to convince him to restore the program. Rather than leave valuable after-school programs to the budgeting whims of the Governor, we will be creating a new, dedicated funding source through this legislation to keep these programs open in good times and in bad so that they can focus on their mission of serving at-risk children.”
“Programs like NJ After 3 and other after school programs make a positive impact on our communities,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic, who serves as Chair of the Senate State Government Committee. “These programs keep kids off the street, giving them a place to just be kids, free from the pressures of street gangs or the temptations of illegal drugs, and they give working parents the peace of mind in knowing that their kids are safe and doing something productive with their time. By dedicating funding through the State lottery, we can protect and insulate these after-school programs from uncertainty that comes part and parcel with the annual budgeting process.”