Bridget Kennedy

Middlesex County Human Services Advisory Council
Strongly Opposes Federal Cuts to Critical Services

Non-Profit, Religious and Political Officials Also
 Urging Congress to Adopt Fiscal 2011 Budget
To Solidify Funding Levels

MARCH 23, 2011 -- The Middlesex County Human Services Advisory Council (HSAC), in cooperation with local religious, nonprofit and political leaders, will address at a March 30 press conference the unjustly harsh cuts being proposed in the federal budget.

The U.S. Congress, whose members cannot agree on a final Fiscal Year 2011 budget, have passed a series of Continuing Resolutions that have had the combined effect of cutting by 15 percent the federal funding for housing, child care, job training, home energy assistance, services for mentally ill residents and other critical services.

These cuts affect funding for the first six months of the fiscal year. No funding has been established for the remaining six months, so agencies cannot determine what funding will be available or if they will be able to provide programs and services.

The Middlesex County HSAC is urging Congress to stop using short-term Continuing Resolutions and to fully adopt the Federal Fiscal Year 2011 budget, so lawmakers can begin a reasoned and bi-partisan discussion of the Federal Fiscal Year 2012 budget.

“The U.S. Congress should be demonstrating better leadership by forging a concerted effort of collaboration and compromise on the 2011 budget,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Blanquita B. Valenti, chair of the County’s Human Services and Senior Services Committee. “We have too much to lose and little to gain by the use of Continuing Resolutions. Congress then needs to begin a dialogue on the 2012 federal budget, the entire federal budget, not just the small ‘discretionary, non-security-related’ slice of the pie.”

Valenti said there is a potential for an additional reduction of 10 percent on top of the 15 percent already in place once a spending plan is developed for the last half of the Fiscal 2011 year.  

The HSAC is a volunteer group that includes consumers of human services, provider agency representatives and consumer advocates. Members are appointed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders, and by regulation are reflective of the County demographics.

“The Council membership is united in recommending prompt adoption of the 2011 federal budget to assure the delivery of important social services to those in need across the country and particularly in Middlesex County,” said Judy Tabert, HSAC Chairperson.

Members of the community are encouraged to attend the press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. March 30 at the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, located at 146 Metlars Lane in Piscataway.

Invitees include representatives from nonprofit provider agencies and consumers of human services and Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski from the Diocese of Metuchen. Other faith-based leaders from throughout the area are invited to participate as well, including Bishop Donald Hilliard from the Cathedral International, Rabbi Bennett Miller from Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple and Rev. Lisanne Finston, Executive Director of Elijah’s Promise.

The HSAC has also invited the Middlesex County Congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, as well as the County’s four U.S. Representatives, Frank Pallone, Leonard Lance, Rush Holt and Albio Sires. The County’s six district State Legislative delegations, the Middlesex County Freeholders, and the Mayors of the County’s 25 municipalities will be invited as well.