New Jersey Assembly leader sets focus on helping millions in poverty

 Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto says it's embarrassing that nearly 3 million New Jersey residents are living in poverty.(Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto says it's embarrassing that nearly 3 million New Jersey residents are living in poverty.(Phil Gregory/WHYY)

One priority for the New Jersey’s new legislative session is fighting poverty.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto said it’s embarrassing that nearly 3 million New Jersey residents are living in poverty.

“Twenty percent of our residents in the state of New Jersey own 50 percent of the wealth, and we applaud them,” said Prieto, D-Hudson. “But we want to make sure those other people can get out of poverty. So we need to look and see how we can make this better.”

Four Assembly committees will hold hearings next week to consider developing legislation to improve resources for the poor.

“When you look at nutrition assistance, 80 percent of other states do a better job than New Jersey. We have to get better,” Prieto said. “We have gotten rid of assistance for housing for people that are on welfare.”

Increasing the availability of job training and improving the transportation network to help residents overcome poverty are other issues the Assembly intends to  consider.

While some procedures could change and new legislation might be needed, Prieto said he’s not sure of the potential costs.

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