Simultaneous Budget Committee hearings today – Senate up north and Assembly at the State House. This begins what will be a looong Spring of all day hearings where advocates and department heads come before the members of the committees to explain that while they sympathize with the state’s need to cut back, it should NOT affect their particular budgets in any way.
Today in the Assembly it was advocates for health and senior services. Many of the agencies get some state moeny which is often matched dollar for dollar with federal funds. The neverending cycle here of course is that if those state dollars are diminished, they can’t get the corresponding federal funds.
We heard from Michael Christman from the Coriell Institute of Medical research which gets a cool million from the state of NJ to do stem cell research. While voters rejected New Jersey’s very own institute in a referendum, Christman says much of the cutting edge research is still being done here…and of course every dollar counts. Where is stem cell research headed? Well according to experts eventually humans may be able to grow the cells they need to replace defective organs. that could extend human life in ways we never imagined possible.
We also heard from David Pascrell ( yes, that’s right he is one of those well known Pascrell’s from Passaic County ) who represents the Adult Medical Daycare Association of Greater New Jersey. the Governor has proposed an 18% cut here. But Pascrell made the case that adult medical daycare ( in which seniors are given their meds by trained professionals and generally looked after ) actually SAVES the state money because it cuts down on emergency or ambulatory visits to hospitals.
Anyway, A LOT of tough choices to make in this year’s budget with the economy tanking and revenues way down, and I don’t envy the politicians who will have to make them.