Residents and representatives from southern New Jersey health care and business communities will meet in Camden County today to tell state legislators what they think of Gov. Chris Christie’s fiscal 2011 budget proposal.
The first Assembly committee hearing on the state budget begins 9:30 a.m. at Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood.
The Senate Budget Committee will meet to take public comments 9 a.m. Thursday at Rutgers University Law School in Camden.
Assembly Budget Committee member John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, said today’s hearing will focus on the issues of health, human services and the needs of families, senior citizens and children.
“We already know people have been signing up online,” he said Monday evening.
Last week, Christie released a draft budget proposal that included deep cuts to programs, including in those areas above and related social services.
He proposed saving funds by closing two centers serving the severely disabled, including one campus in Vineland, Cumberland County.
Members of the public who speak up today will have the chance to tackle the big planks of Christie’s plan —including the proposed end of new enrollment for a “senior freeze” that limits senior citizens’ property taxes.
The Senate and Assembly will hold a number of hearings on the budget during the next two months. Five of them will be held just to allow the public to talk about the budget. The hearings in Camden County this week are the only ones scheduled in southern New Jersey.
Those with an opinion to share must hurry: Signup slots for many of the hearings are already full.
Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex, Passaic, head of the Senate’s budget panel, said Tuesday the budget hearings would balance fiscal concerns with sensitivity to the plight of those whose services will be cut.
“As state lawmakers, we’re going to have to make some tough decisions to balance the budget. But we also need to be fair to those people who have nowhere else to turn for support,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
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