New Jersey's 25th Legislative District

Senator Anthony M. Bucco

Senator Anthony M. Bucco

Bucco Warns of Murphy’s Budget Cuts to Children’s Counseling, Mental Health & Drug Education Services

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Says Governor Is Out of Touch and Placing Progressive Policies Ahead of Children’s Health Care & Well-Being

Senator Anthony M. Bucco said Governor Phil Murphy’s revised budget proposal for FY 2021 cuts funding for proven school-based mental health counseling and municipal anti-drug programs for children while directing money into new programs like “baby bonds” that do little but generate headlines for the governor.

Sen. Tony Bucco said Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget proposal cuts funding for proven school-based mental health counseling and municipal anti-drug programs for children while directing money into new programs like ‘baby bonds’ that do little but generate headlines for the governor. (SenateNJ.com)

“We have young children and teens who are struggling from months of social isolation, separation from their friends, and the stress of starting a new school year with the education landscape constantly changing,” said Bucco (R-25). “Many of those kids don’t have access to mental health services and are at an impressionable age when it comes to experimenting with drugs. Instead of bolstering proven school counseling and Municipal Alliance programs that are critically needed today, the governor is diverting funding to a dubious ‘baby bonds’ proposal that wouldn’t provide any benefit for decades. It looks like the governor is prioritizing his own headlines over children’s health care and well-being. This is out of touch with what the times demand to keep our kids safe.”

Governor Murphy’s revised FY 2021 State Budget proposal (page 34) includes a more than $10 million reduction for the School Linked Services Program, which provides a variety of services for students in New Jersey’s elementary, middle, and high schools.

The Office of School Linked Services, located within the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, supports school-based mental health services and counseling, suicide prevention, and substance abuse education and prevention programs.

According to the brief overview of the governor’s proposed budget, funding for these important programs would be reduced from $15.291 million in FY 2020 to just $4.969 million next year.

Similarly, local officials are being told by the Murphy Administration that the Municipal Alliance Program that’s run by the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse will face budget cuts in the upcoming budget.

Municipal Alliances provide drug education to both students and parents through a variety of school- and community-based programs.

The full extent of the administrations’s proposed cuts to the Alliance Program is impossible to determine as the governor has not made a detailed version of his revised FY 2021 budget proposal available for either legislators or the public to review.

“With overdose deaths up by 20% since the start of the pandemic, there couldn’t be a worse time for Governor Murphy to slash funding for school-based counseling, suicide prevention, and substance abuse programs,” added Bucco. “I’m extremely concerned that schools don’t seem to have been told by the Murphy administration that these State-funded resources won’t be available when they need them most. What the governor is doing is incredibly short-sighted. He needs to reverse course on this and do it quickly.”

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