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(VOORHEES)—Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s announcement of the new FamilyCare “Express Lane” application option:
“The global economic crisis has left many New Jersey families struggling to afford health insurance and other basic necessities.
“A recent statewide study found one in three non-elderly New Jerseyans were uninsured at some point in the last two years.
“More alarmingly, the vast majority are New Jersey children who are eligible for FamilyCare and other health benefits are not enrolled.
“Clearly, we must work to increase public awareness of these programs and to streamline red tape in the enrollment process. I sponsored last year’s law to mandate health coverage for all children and to identify using state income tax returns eligible yet unenrolled children and families. This law is a critical step toward ensuring no New Jersey child is forced to go without health insurance.
“I applaud Gov. Corzine’s announcement today. Nothing is more important than ensuring New Jersey’s children have the opportunity to grow up healthy and safe, and this announcement is a step in the right direction.
Following are Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald’s (D-Camden) opening remarks as prepared for today’s meeting of the Assembly Budget Committee:
Even before Governor Corzine introduced his proposed Fiscal Year 2010 state budget, we knew this year was going to be like no other.
Our nation’s economy is in the depths of recession rivaled only by the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Revenues are down across the board, affecting private businesses and government alike.
Without the fiscal discipline we showed last year in enacting the largest spending cut in state history – a record I am certain will fall this year – and our efforts over the past six months to strengthen and reposition our economy, New Jersey surely would find itself facing an almost insurmountable fiscal challenge.
In this time of unprecedented economic peril, Governor Corzine has proposed a budget that balances the need for deep cuts with the need to invest in our core values and services – creating jobs, expanding health care access, investing in our kids’ educations and safeguarding the public.
Unfortunately from the moment the Governor proposed this budget, the perennial critics began their assault.
He cut too much.
He cut too little.
He proposed too many taxes.
He didn’t propose enough taxes.
Much of the criticism has been the same tired refrain we hear year after year.
But some of the criticism actually surprised me and I wanted to take a few moments to address some of it.
(TRENTON) – The leaders of the Assembly Budget Committee today said the panel’s work to craft the Fiscal Year 2010 state budget will center on ensuring that the state’s priorities reflect and protect New Jersey’s core values.
Chairman Louis Greenwald, Vice Chairman Gary Schaer and Assemblywoman Nellie Pou – chairwoman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee – all praised the budget framework laid-out by Governor Jon Corzine for its focus on protecting public safety, investing in public schools and ensuring that working families, seniors and the disabled will be able to survive the current recession.
“This budget must seal the cracks created by the global economic earthquake to ensure no working family, senior citizen or child falls through,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “Even with limited resources and in the face of historic spending cuts, we will invest in the core values shared by all New Jerseyans – creating jobs, expanding health care access, investing in our kids’ educations and safeguarding the public.”
“We have a unique opportunity to complement President Obama’s stimulus efforts by making New Jersey leaner and well-positioned for growth once the economy turns around, which it will,” said Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen/Essex). “Emphasizing children’s health care and putting hundreds of millions more dollars in classrooms across New Jersey make it clear that we are investing not just for today, but with an eye on the security of future generations.”
Asbury Park Press
April 6, 2009
State officials say Ancora Psychiatric Hospital has become a better place over the past year, but even they admit that New Jersey's largest facility for the mentally ill still has a long way to go.
"We're not claiming victory at Ancora," said Greg Roberts, assistant director of the state's Office of Hospital Management. "2008 was a year of progress and stabilization, and it really sets the stage for continued progress. We still have a lot of work to do down there."
Kevin Martone, deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, said Gov. Jon S. Corzine and state officials made a commitment last year to "change the culture" at Ancora following a series of violent incidents, patient deaths and questions about the quality of care at the Winslow Township hospital.
"The hospital is still on the path to recovery," Martone said.
A smaller patient population, better programming and new safety measures instituted within the past year have helped improve conditions at the hospital in Camden County, state officials say.
The improvements followed a time of turmoil at Ancora.
In a series of stories published early in 2008, the Asbury Park Press documented numerous problems at Ancora, including overcrowding, poorly trained staff and a violent atmosphere that included the assault of 19 psychiatrists from 2001 to last year.
Six patients died in a 20-month period.
Chairman Greenwald and members of the Assembly Budget Committe discuss the importance of public budget hearings.