Governor Chris Christie delivered his Budget Address before the State Legislature, several ex-Governors, friends and family and the public at large, thanks to public television. As usual, the Governor’s speech was strong on style and carefully designed to woo the electorate. His budget address was obviously a campaign speech for 2013. Even democrats have declared that his speech was smoothly delivered. Unfortunately, he has simplified many issues.
The governor has publicly offered a ten per cent income tax deduction across the board for all New Jerseyans. This is an attractive sound bite. The governor also talked about serving non-violent drug offenders in community settings, rather than in jail. He made the same proposal for those with psychiatric issues and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Nevertheless, delivering such concepts and appropriately serving these populations remains in question.
The Governor talked about deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill and those who are developmentally disabled. In fact, there are no real services available in the community for the severely disabled. He is really addressing their issues based on money. Certainly, it should be a goal to arrange community placement for those who can survive in the community. However, there are many who cannot survive in community settings without round the clock support.
The Governor is doing nothing to end the waiting list for housing for those with developmental disabilities whose parents have passed away or are too old and frail to care for them. He has no plan for these people, but sounds like a champion when he talks about them. Unfortunately, his presentation was effective and persuasive for many people. I even heard some Democratic office-holders praising his speech.
He is doing nothing for the property owner, municipal governments, or those in need. He has taken millions away from the schools and now brags about returning some loose change to NJ Education.
The Governor’s Budget Address was strong in style and deceptively weak in substance. He is a masterful politician who is not serving anyone but a select few.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.