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Whelan Statement On Passage Of Dems’ Spending Plan

Says Alternative Budget Reflects New Jersey Priorities, Protects Most Vulnerable State Residents

TRENTON – Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, the Chairman of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, issued the following statement today regarding Senate approval of a Democratic-sponsored spending plan which serves as an alternative to Governor Christie’s proposed FY 2012 budget which abandoned the State’s priorities and passed the pain on to the working poor and middle class:

“The Budget approved in the Senate today recognizes that even in tough economic times, we still have an obligation to protect the poor, the vulnerable, the sick and the elderly. The plan put forward by Legislative Democrats is able to reverse some of the Governor’s most draconian cuts, boosts support for programs that make a difference in people’s lives and pocketbooks, and we were able to do it without raising a single tax on working poor and middle class New Jerseyans.

“Under the proposed Democratic budget, we’ve increased funding for schools in order to ensure all children have access to a quality education. We’ve increased funding for public safety, to make sure that our streets are safe. Without some level of State support, local elected officials would be put in the unenviable position of having to impose cuts which jeopardize educational quality or public safety, or having to raise property taxes on hard-hit New Jerseyans in order to afford essential programs.

“Under the proposed Democratic budget, we’ve restored funding for women’s health, Medicaid and Family Care. These safety net programs ensure that all New Jerseyans have access to decent, affordable health care. Under the Governor’s proposal, the safety net would have been decimated, and many working poor New Jerseyans would have been one serious illness away from bankruptcy.

“Under the proposed Democratic budget, we’ve funded job-creating programs like the Urban Enterprise Zone program, and we’ve ensured that seniors will have access to needed property tax relief.

“Governor Christie and Republican lawmakers who oppose our spending plan will try to paint this as more of the same – more tax-and-spend liberalism and pie in the sky budgeting. However, there’s nothing pie-in-the-sky about standing up for people in need. There’s nothing wrong with standing by your spending priorities and giving relief to middle class and working poor New Jerseyans.

“The budget approved by Democrats in the Senate today is a responsible and sound spending plan which reflects New Jersey’s priorities and protects people in need. I hope Governor Christie reviews our proposal absent partisan blinders and recognizes it for what it is – a good budget for the people of the Garden State.”