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Lou's Latest Op-Eds
As you know, the global economic recession has had a serious impact on New Jersey . People are losing their jobs. Families are losing their homes. Everyone must do more with less.
And that's just what our state government must do as well. New Jerseyans are frustrated by wasteful spending in Trenton , which drives up taxes and diverts money from important programs that really need it.
Yesterday, the Governor proposed a series of cuts to this year's state budget, which faces a significant deficit because of declining revenue. As chairman of the Budget committee, I will ensure we will take testimony on the Governor's proposals. But whatever decisions we make about the state budget and spending cuts should not come before hearing from you, the taxpayers.
It was disappointing to see the governor unilaterally imposing these budget cuts without seeking input from the public. As your elected representative, I want to make sure your voices are heard in Trenton . If they were, the governor may not have proposed cutting nearly $500 million in state aid, which would deny money for classrooms in almost every school district in New Jersey and take property tax relief out of your pockets. We need to hear viable alternative solutions to balance our budget responsibly without burdening the hardworking taxpayers of New Jersey .
Gloucester County Times
September 27, 2009
By Louis D. Greenwald
New Jersey must do more to meet the demand for community alternatives for individuals with mental retardation, autism and other developmental disabilities.
Many families of the developmentally disabled must care for their loved ones at home with no support or have them institutionalized in one of the state’s seven developmental centers. With one in 94 children in New Jersey diagnosed with autism, this is an issue we cannot afford to ignore.
A recent audit of the Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities raised concerns that the needs of the developmentally disabled are not being met. Commonly known as DDD, the division has the unenviable job of caring for our most vulnerable residents. Like all of us facing hardships in this tough economic climate, DDD is having to do more with less — exacerbated by retirements, attrition, a hiring freeze and a lack of increased state funding.
For example, DDD case managers are overwhelmed with caseloads as high as 500 individuals, while other states average less than 50. With such an excessive workload, it is increasingly difficult to deliver the highest quality of service and oversight for each person.
March 22, 2009
By Lou Greenwald
Reggie Davis-Johnson is his own man. He has a job, lives with roommates, and spends time with friends. He goes to Wawa to get his favorite coffee whenever he likes. Most of all, he's happy.
It wasn't always this way. Born with mental disabilities, Reggie was institutionalized for 18 years. Though he received excellent medical care, he was unable to make many decisions for himself. Since moving to a shared-living home in Voorhees, Reggie has flourished. More independent, he can achieve his full potential as a member of the community.
Reggie's success story is heartwarming, but rare. Unfortunately, New Jersey hasn't been progressive in providing those most in need - those suffering from mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities - with the same opportunity.
Nationwide, 140 major institutions for the developmentally disabled have closed in the last 40 years; New Jersey has not closed one in 10 years. New Jersey has the third-highest rate of institutionalization, behind only Louisiana and Mississippi. And the state spends one-third of its developmental disability budget caring for only 8 percent of developmentally disabled New Jerseyans.
Asbury Park Press
December 26, 2008
By Louis Greenwald
The fact New Jersey is caught in the throes of an international economic recession is neither escapable nor debatable. New Jerseyans are becoming all too familiar with tighter household budgets and the specter of job loss. On a state level, a precipitous drop-off in revenues threatens the future of the programs many rely on.
To be sure, this recession is not New Jersey's creation, nor can New Jersey solve it all on its own. But there are steps we can and must take to help the state and its residents.
Already, Gov. Jon Corzine and the Legislature have moved together on a number of initiatives to provide direct assistance to the families that need it most, ensure families don't lose their homes to foreclosure and give businesses the tax breaks and incentives they need to stay open.
All are things that need to be done. But we should take a page from history and use this economy as a means to undertake critical projects that can provide jobs in the short-term while building infrastructure that can serve the state for the long term.