Christie Declares War On the Poor

I can’t really add anything to this succinctly phrased statement by William Colon. He lays out for easy review, the drastic funding cuts Christie has enacted, which strike blow after blow to the most vulnerable of our state.

(Read article in Spanish)

Christie’s War On The Poor

Written by William Colon, executive director of the Latino Institute, Inc. and a contributing writer for the Hall Institute of Public Policy.

“We had a ‘war on poverty’ once, and we lost it, and since poverty is still here, let’s eliminate the poor amongst us.”

This seems to be New Jersey’s prevailing public philosophy.

Last week, with a few strokes of the pen, the governor killed attempts by the state legislature to restore funds to various programs and initiatives that were designed to help the poor. The list is very long, and we will mention just a few.

Among the cuts are millions of dollars in tuition aid which were used by poor students to pay for college, women’s health services, legal services for the poor in Camden and Newark, and the New Jersey After 3 program, dedicated to the provision of after-school educational services in Newark and Paterson. The governor cut money to child care centers for urban children, adding new rules to make it virtually impossible for undocumented immigrants to have access to those services, and changed the rules for Medicaid so that working poor adults cannot earn more than the absurd amount of $105 a week if they want to be covered by health insurance.

He also eliminated funds for family planning services clinics and preventive health services for pregnant women. He ended funding for a program which assisted poor AIDS patients with their life-saving drugs, and eviscerated the funding for the assistance of the blind and visually impaired. He also cut funds for programs supporting frail and sick elderly.

And he shot directly at the heart of the Latino community, by eliminating the restoration of $2.3 million the state legislature had designated to support programs at the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development (CHPRD).

Last year, the governor demonstrated what he thought about Hispanics and their needs, by eliminating in toto $8.5 million in programs that provide direct services to the Latino community. Now, going a step further, not only he took away the funds, but added odious and perverse rules so that our people are forced to live in abject poverty, or better, to move elsewhere.

To facilitate this nefarious and mean-spirited agenda, knowing that the majority of Latinos live in cities or urban centers like Newark, Jersey City, Passaic, Perth Amboy and Paterson, he also cut funds to these cities, impacting local property taxes (there are will be no property tax decreases in the foreseeable future), and therefore, impacting rents for poor tenants.

It is ironic that those cuts will also impact Latino mayors Awilda Diaz and Felix Roque, who had kissed and embraced Mr. Christie in the past. I wonder what they think now of the governor after he has limited their ability to carry on their pet projects.

It should be noted that while these cuts were made, the governor decided to send additional funds to the richest school districts in the state. In addition, he doubled the budget surplus. I suppose this was done to ensure there is enough money in the bank to keep up with the corporate welfare grants which have been promised to projects such as Xanadu and Panasonic.

A few weeks ago, his satraps hypocritically told us they had a “home” for Latinos in state government, as they announced their “new” -lean and mean-programs under the CHPRD. What they forgot to tell us is that the house they want us to call “home” has no door, no roof, no toilet and is full of holes.

As last year, the Hispanic Directors Association, led by Guillo Beythag-Maldonado and Mario Vargas, took up the defense for the Latino community. Working together with Assemblywoman Nellie Pou, the legislature restored programs for our people, only to be slashed and removed once again by the governor. He, who has praised us with words at public events; he, who condemns us with his actions.

The actions which confirm an anti-Hispanic agenda, dedicated to get us out of the Garden State.

Governor Christie declared war on the poor. The vast majority of our Latino people are poor, so he also declared war on Hispanics.

There is an old, secular Spanish proverb which states “En guerra avisada, no muere gente”

It means: if you have been warned that war is imminent, take cover, run for the hills; maybe you can save your life.

Article orginally published at Hall Institute of Public Policy

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