Difficult Budget Requires Resident Input

By Assemblyman Joseph Vas

The New Jersey FY 2009 Budget process is in full swing and I would like to take the time to bring residents of the 19th Legislative District up to speed on what has been occurring. As a member of the General Assembly Budget Committee, I have to say that this budget like most recent budgets has been a difficult one.

An important responsibility of my job is to represent the constituents in Trenton and to ensure the district has a voice in the state budget process, and that it is well informed.

The Assembly Budget Committee received testimony from a range of New Jersey residents and associations that expressed their concerns about the funding appropriated to the various areas in the FY 2009 budget. Different areas that will be seeing significant cuts are agricultural groups, charity care, arts, and education, just to name a few.

Between late March and the beginning of May, the Budget Committee heard testimony from State Departments with regards to Governor Corzine’s cuts to various departments, which will surely affect the quality of their services.

I am anticipating the same approach to the budget we took last year and hope for a couple more Budget Public Hearings which will give the public more opportunity to speak out regarding their concerns about the FY Budget 2009. Last year, the Speaker Joseph Roberts suggested a new process to the budget called Budget Resolution Request. These requests were made by legislatures on behalf of organizations, departments, and associations to help amend the proposed budget.

Undoubtedly, the residents of New Jersey are aware of the difficult restraints that this year’s budget has placed on the state government. It is critical that the Legislature hear from residents in order to properly assess the impact of the Governor’s proposed budget on New Jersey’s taxpayers. This is why I would like to thank everyone who has provided input to the members of the Assembly Budget Committee. You may rest assured that the information supplied will be evaluated by me as a member of the Assembly Budget Committee. In an effort to demonstrate my commitment to the residents of New Jersey, I have personally responded to testimonies and correspondence regarding the budget and will take all requests and concerns into deep consideration.

I, along with the members of the Assembly Budget Committee, expect to have an agreed upon and satisfactory budget in place by approximately June 26. I encourage the public to visit the NJ Legislature website to listen to and view procedures of the Assembly Budget Committee at http://www.njleg.state.us.

Homestead Rebates

Briefly, I would like to take the time to explain the Homestead Rebates for the senior and disabled residents of New Jersey. You will have until June 2, 2008 to file your applications for the 2007 Homestead Rebate. Middlesex County residents should have received the application by May 1. I encourage all residents to read it carefully and make sure you meet all eligibility requirements.

For more information about, or assistance with, the Homestead Rebate application, please call the Homestead Rebate Program at 888-238-1233. To apply by phone, call 877-658-2972. As always, you can also contact my district office at 732-324-5955.

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