TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew to create a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s seven developmental centers and to develop a plan for the future of developmental centers in this state, which may include recommendations for facility closures, received final approval today in the Senate.
The senator introduced the bill after a provision was included in the FY2012 State budget to close the Vineland Developmental Center. The bill (S-2928) would provide for a thorough review of all of the state’s centers that takes into account the needs of facility residents and the potential economic impact of a closure on the region.
“My number one concern with the proposal to close the Vineland Developmental Center was that it was put forward without a reasonable plan for the future of the residents and no consideration as to how a closure would affect the region economically,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “I have always believed that any plan to close a developmental center must be based on a thorough, state-wide review of all of the state’s facilities. This task force allows for that to occur, and most importantly, ensures that Vineland will not close without a full and comprehensive review of the entire state.”
The bill would create a five-member task force to review and prepare a plan for the future of state developmental centers. The panel would be made up of three members appointed by the governor and one each appointed by the Senate President and Assembly Speaker. The task force would be required to meet within 30 days, and to complete their work no earlier than 90 days following organization and no later than 180 days.
“I want to thank the governor and Senate President Sweeney for the continued dialogue on this issue and for working to come up with a solution that addresses the needs of the state as well as the needs of our residents,” said Van Drew.
The bill was approved by both houses of the Legislature in June, and later conditionally vetoed by the governor. The Senate gave final approval to the recommended changes, by a vote of 38-0. It now goes to the Assembly to consider the Governor’s recommendations.