Van Drew: Vineland Developmental Center Gets New Life

Bill to Ensure Comprehensive Review of Seven Developmental Centers Accepted by Governor with Recommendation for Changes, Senate to Consider Today

TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew said action taken today by the governor on a bill that will allow for a comprehensive analysis of the state’s seven developmental centers has given a new life to the Vineland Developmental Center, as passage of the legislation will ensure the facility is not arbitrarily closed as initially proposed under the state budget.

The governor today conditionally vetoed legislation (S-2928) sponsored by Van Drew that will create a task force to study the state’s seven developmental centers and issue a recommendation for closures that will be binding. Senator Van Drew said he is encouraged the governor accepted the legislation, and will urge his colleagues to approve changes sought by the administration. The recommended changes will be considered by the full Senate at today’s voting session, scheduled for 1p.m. If approved, the senator said he anticipates the bill will receive a final vote in September.

“The action taken by the governor gives Vineland a new life. Under this bill, all seven developmental centers will be studied comprehensively by a task force which will decide on facility closures. The decision made by this panel after a thorough review will be binding.

“While the task force will be smaller than initially planned, the Legislature is assured a voice in the discussion through designated appointments on the five-member panel. And despite changes to the bill, I am optimistic the process undertaken by this body will be exceedingly fair and complete.

“The bottom line is: this is a lifeline for Vineland. This will give us a fair chance at keeping open the center that hundreds of women with developmental disabilities, many who have lived there for decades, call home. And it will give us an opportunity to save the jobs of thousands of people who work at Vineland, and have dedicated their careers to caring for the residents.

“I want to thank Senate President Sweeney for his steady work on this issue. His help in coordinating discussions with the governor’s office was critically important to this process. I particularly want to thank the governor for being fair and willing to consider my legislation.”

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