As Christie cuts stand, Dems say cities will suffer

Democrats in the N.J. Senate failed for a second day to override Gov. Chris Christie’s budget cuts Tuesday.

Senate Democrats were unable to get any of the three Republican votes they needed to override 13 vetoed budget items.

Senate President Steve Sweeney said lack of funding to urban programs amounts to a death sentence, while Republicans countered there is not enough revenue in the budget to support any additional spending.

Sweeney was especially critical of the GOP for not supporting restoration of $50 million in public safety funding for municipalities and $139 million in transitional aid for 21 struggling cities.

“They just voted to basically put people to death in urban areas by not funding these programs,” he said.

Sen. Donald Norcross said the failure to restore additional money for public safety and transitional aid will have a major impact on Camden.

“We’re talking about people’s lives here in my town where half the police are already gone, devastation, bankruptcy, those are the words that I’m hearing,” he said.

Republican Sen. Steve Oroho said the transitional aid program was supposed to be temporary. “We would all like to have more money. There’s probably not one town or county or municipality that would say, ‘No, I don’t need any more.’ But it seems to me when I look at this we had a temporary program that has now become permanent,” he said.

The Democrats also failed in efforts to restore funding for tuition-aid grants, an after-school program for inner city kids, and child care for low-income residents.

Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono made an unsuccessful plea to restore $3 million in funding for an after-school program that serves 5,000 students.

“What have we become? What kind of a society have we become? What are we, back to survival of the fittest?” she said. “What’s the child supposed to do that’s alone unsupervised after school?”

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