Tag Archive: Family Planning Clinics

It’s Time To Give A Damn About NJ’s Poor

The U.S. Census Bureau on September 13 released a report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S.: 2010. Bloomberg News summarized key data:

The Bureau says 10.7%  [or 941,000] of New Jersey residents had household incomes below the poverty line last year. It was 9.3% in 2009 and 9.2% percent in 2008. The Census Bureau also says more than 15% of the state’s residents have no health insurance. That number has risen steadily.

Poverty Benchmarks – 2011, a March report issued by Legal Services of NJ (LSNJ) indicated nearly two million New Jerseyans are living in or on the brink of poverty. The state’s Occupational Wage Survey (August 2011) shows that of those employed the average salary is $50,730, but of those in the bottom 25 percentile the highest salary is $24,460. In order to be living above the poverty level, a family of one adult with two children would need an annual income of at least $17,285, and a family of two adults with two children would need $22,113.

NJ JOBS: Setting a Goal, What Won’t Happen, & How Manufacturing Can Help

In the previous diary on NJ JOBS we examined the wrong track approach which emphasizes reducing government, budgets, and debt. By putting people back to work, however, the state can regain tax revenues needed to reduce indebtedness and replenish our unemployment, transportation, and pension/health funds. More important, it brings a measure of relief, security and optimism, sorely lacking now, to people who want to hold on to their home, put food on their table, pay bills, and reduce their reliance on government support. The argument should not be, as Christie says, over jobs for the private sector vs. the public sector because both are essential to our economy and our well-being.

Our state government, famous for imposing objectives on organizations it funds, could set its own objective for lowering unemployment. A decrease of just 1%, from 9.5% to 8.5%, in the unemployment rate would add about 45,000 new jobs for those who are now struggling. At an average salary of $25,000 it would add over $1 billion to our economy, part of which would go to taxes, strengthening the state’s revenues. A substantial reduction in unemployment to 5% or 6% is a longer term objective which entails retooling education, innovation and automation for new jobs replacing those which are no longer needed and in which we are no longer competitive. A state goal of 1% or 2% is not an impossible dream.

Drawing the Battle Lines on the 2012 Budget

I am gravely concerned that Governor Christie’s proposed FY 2012 State Budget fails New Jersey’s most vulnerable populations – Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen)

Immediately on the heels of the Pension and Health Benefits bill comes the Battle of the 2012 Budget which must be fought and concluded by the end of next week.  And the battle lines are being drawn. This year Senate President Sweeney (D- Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Oliver (D- Essex) have proposed more robust alternatives. Their plan envisions adding more than $1 million to Governor Christie’s proposed budget.

Their plan includes:

  • Millionaire’s Tax – increase tax from the current 8.97% to 10.75% on income over $1 million.

  • Earned Income Tax Credit – restore it.

  • School Funding – fulll formula funding for every school district.

  • City police departments – add money.

  • Family Planning Clinics – restore funding. (Note: Several Assembly Republicans have introduced a budget resolution to increase funding for women’s health services by $7.5 million in Fiscal Year 2012 but to allocate the funds to Federal Qualified Health Centers, not to Planned Parenthood.)

  • Family Care and Medicaid – eliminate the cuts.

  • NJN – Provide 3-6 months of stopgap funding.

    Disgust toward recent Democratic leadership should not get in the way of supporting alternatives to Christie’s budget proposals.  Christie brandishes the veto pen so negotiation and even support from Republican legislators will be needed for an improved outcome.

    Add your thoughts on alternative budget proposals and on needed strategies.