Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, while relieved that the doors of the NJ After 3 program will remain open, questioned much of the decision-making behind the public/private partnership created by the Christie administration. “It’s great that NJ After 3 is being saved”, Huttle said. “However, this would have been much more welcome news before the school year started, not conveniently right before an election and after much criticism has been levied against the Governor’s decision to defund this successful program”, Huttle says.
“It’s unfortunate that the administration did not begin preparing to address this issue before funding ran out in July. At the Englewood program in my district, parents are now being charged double what they previously paid to compensate for the lack of funding and as a result nearly 15 percent of the families enrolled last year have been forced to drop out of the program”.
“After school programming isn’t a political issue and I’m sorry to see the Governor playing politics with it like this”.
“It’s also interesting that the organization the Governor has chosen to take over the reigns of the NJ After 3 program is run by wealthy hedge fund managers who have spent millions of dollars on ads singing his praises”.
“The Governor might like to claim that the program had very little philanthropic support, but the facts tell a different story. Since 2004, the NJ After 3 program has received $31 million in matching cash contributions and in kind support from the likes of major corporations such as PSE&G, Capital One Bank, State Farm, PNC Bank, AT&T, Subaru, Campbell Soup, Merck, and Sanofi Aventis.”
Vainieri Huttle noted that last year Christie had proposed eliminating the entire $10 million in state funding that the program received. After fierce opposition from Democrats in the legislature, they were able to secure $3 million to help keep the program afloat. However, Christie once again proposed eliminating all of the state funding this year and despite Democrats reinserting the $3 million in the budget they passed, Christie excised it in its entirety with his veto pen.
Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (both D-Bergen) released the following statement:
“We join our Democratic colleagues in being relieved the NJ After 3 program is being given a lifeline. We are happy for the prior philanthropic support the program received and welcome any future philanthropic dollars available”.
“Our district staff was instrumental in bringing this vital program to Englewood and the Governor’s veto of the dollars to support NJ After 3 was ill-advised and short-sighted”.
“Let’s welcome a public-private partnership and find a long-range solution to keep this important program operating.”
Assembly Education Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex) released the following statement:
“I’m relieved to see the governor finally act to save the program”.
“Sadly, it took an outcry from children’s advocates across the state to make this happen”.
“Much damage has needlessly been done to this model program. At one time NJ After 3 served as man as 15,000 children. Slashing this program served no public purpose and harmed families around New Jersey”.
“I implore the governor to seek the input of others before considering any future action to eliminate or reduce programs that protect children. Such programs should be the last place we look for budget reductions.” TLS.