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January 26, 2009
Financially, it's a no-brainer. But this isn't only an economic issue, it's a moral issue, too.
Assemblyman Louis Greenwald has introduced a bold bill to close five of the state's seven developmental centers and disperse most of the 2,861 residents into the community, to group homes or independent living with support services.
To sell the idea, many proponents have focused on the money it will save at a time when New Jersey desperately craves creative financial solutions.
Everyone agrees on the numbers: Housing in a developmental center costs roughly $223,000 annually -- or $641 per day -- per resident, while community living runs approximately $300 daily.
But opponents, like state Sen. Jeff Van Drew and the unions representing the approximately 2,500 workers at the institutions, downplay the savings. They warn that the five-year plan is too aggressive and that the state can't afford the loss of jobs during a recession, especially by leading employers in two of Van Drew's counties. The unions, not surprisingly, are trying to protect the $48 million spent on overtime last year.
"It's not about the jobs, but, really, it is about the jobs," Van Drew says. But he's wrong. It's about quality of life.
January 24, 2009
New Jersey lawmakers should move ahead with a proposal to eliminate warehouse-style institutional care for the developmentally disabled and move them to community settings.
Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D., Camden) wants New Jersey to follow in the footsteps of 10 other states that have placed people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and mental retardation in group homes or shared apartments rather than large, state-run facilities.
Under the proposal, introduced earlier this month, five of the seven developmental centers would be closed within five years. About 80 percent of the population, more than 2,000 people, would be relocated to community settings.
Supporters, including the group Disability Rights New Jersey, say the move is long overdue and will integrate the developmentally disabled into everyday life and give them a chance to live independently, make friends and work. In other words, a better life.
It also would save money, costing about $300 per day for community settings, compared with $614 per day in developmental centers. Overall, the developmental centers cost about $230,000 per person.
For Release: January 19, 2009
Contact: Brian McGinnis, 856-435-1247
GREENWALD/FISHER BILL TO EDUCATE PARENTS ON SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME ADVANCES
(TRENTON) – The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee has released legislation Assembly members Louis D. Greenwald and Douglas H. Fisher sponsored to require the state include information about Shaken Baby Syndrome to new parents.
“All new parents need to be absolutely aware of how devastating this syndrome can be,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “Learning about Shaken Baby Syndrome will hopefully prevent parents from harming their babies.”
According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, 1,200 to 1,400 children nationwide annually receive medical treatment for injuries attributed to being violently shaken by a caregiver.
Nearly 30 percent of those injuries prove fatal, and about 80 percent of survivors incur lifelong brain injuries that can lead to learning and physical disabilities, blindness, hearing and speech disabilities, cerebral palsy and behavior disorders.
The legislation (A-725) would require the state to include information on Shaken Baby Syndrome in the resource guide it provides to new parents. The guide also would be published in Spanish. A health care professional would be required to review information in the guide with new parents as part of the discharge procedure.
Assemblyman Greenwald comments on Governor Corzine’s plan to cut $812 million from the state budget
January 14, 2009
Reactions to Gov. Jon S. Corzine's State of the State speech delivered Tuesday:
Assemblyman Nelson Albano, D-Cumberland: "New Jersey has already taken strong steps, including the largest spending cut in state history and measures we sponsored to ensure no debt is incurred without voter consent and implement historic new business grants and tax cuts, but this isn't enough."
Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington: "After three years of tax increases, toll hikes and increased state spending, Gov. Corzine continues to contend that he is capable of making the tough decisions necessary to make New Jersey more affordable for seniors and middle class families. His actions, however, simply do not match his rhetoric."
Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth: "Over the past few months, Republicans have presented a number of common-sense solutions that could quickly be enacted to prevent New Jersey's massive budget deficit from growing even further. For months, Republicans in the Legislature have offered to work with Gov. Corzine to fix our broken budget. Each and every offer made by Republicans to work with the Governor was summarily dismissed."
Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, R-Union: "Gov. Corzine should have started cutting the state's budget four years ago. Corzine failed to plan for a rainy day. Now, when we're in a storm, he's trying to embrace some of the budget cuts we've been calling for and taxpayers have needed."