Following reports that Governor Phil Murphy has seen the light after being shamed for slashing critically important counseling programs for kids, Senator Michael Testa (R-1) said finding a way to restore funding for the School-Based Youth Services Program is not difficult.
Following reports that Gov. Phil Murphy has seen the light after being shamed for slashing critically important counseling programs for kids, Sen. Michael Testa said finding a way to restore funding for the School-Based Youth Services Program is not difficult. (©iStock)
“We have children who need help coping with the stresses of lockdowns, uncertainty with school, and the many other challenges that have resulted from COVID-19,” said Testa, a member of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee. “That’s why it was so utterly shocking that Governor Murphy would propose slashing budget funding for critically important mental health support programs for kids exactly when they need extra help. Thankfully, the governor’s mistake is not something that should be difficult to fix.”
In his revised budget proposal for 2021, Governor Murphy proposed cutting $11 million for the School-Based Youth Services Program, which provides a variety of mental health counseling services for students in New Jersey’s elementary, middle, and high schools.
After lawmakers, school officials, and parents universally lambasted the governor for his proposed cuts, he was shamed into reversing course. In a published report indicating he now wants to get the funding back into the budget, the governor said, “I’ve just got to make sure we have the money to pay for it.”
In addition to slashing $11 million of funding for school counseling programs that could help kids today, the governor’s budget proposal includes $40 million for a new “baby bonds” program that wouldn’t provide any benefit to next year’s newborns until they turn 18.
“Governor Murphy, I’ve got news for you,” said Testa. “We can fund the school counseling programs you tried to cut four times over by eliminating your ridiculous ‘baby bonds’ proposal that wouldn’t provide any benefit to kids for close to 20 years. Problem solved.”
Citing the many other problems with the administration’s larger spending plan, Testa urged Governor Murphy to review a letter that he and the other Senate Republican budget committee members sent last week outlining a fiscally responsible plan for the entire budget.
“While I’m relieved we’re winning this fight to get funding for school counseling programs restored, it’s just one small component of Governor Murphy’s much larger spending plan that remains broken beyond belief,” added Testa. “To fix it, we sent him a realistic budget plan that prevents cuts to important programs and does away with billions in unnecessary borrowing and higher taxes. He should do New Jersey a favor and read it.”
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