Recovery4All Coalition Responds to Budget Chair Sarlo’s Comments on Excluded NJ Fund, Praises Latino Caucus $989 Million Budget Resolution
With a $10 Billion Surplus, Coalition Calls on Legislature to Provide Full Relief to Immigrants and Excluded Workers
(Trenton, New Jersey, June 18, 2021) – Today, immigrant, community, faith and advocacy organizations that comprise the Recovery4All Coalition called on the legislature to fully fund the Fund for Excluded New Jerseyans to provide real relief to the nearly half million New Jerseyans excluded from federal aid. Responding to comments by Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo’s to Politico yesterday that there would not be additional funds in the budget for the program, the coalition pointed to the $10 billion surplus that the state has forecasted and urged the legislature to fully fund the relief program, which in its current form reaches less than 10% of all individuals excluded from relief in the state. The coalition also praised Senator Teresa Ruiz, Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro and members of the New Jersey Latino Legislative Caucus for their introduction of a $989 million budget resolution to provide relief to every low-income individual left behind from federal aid.
“We are essential. We are the workers who brought food to your table during the pandemic, who provided support so that so many could work at home during the pandemic. We are the foundation of this economy, and we risked our lives for this state. But time and time again, our state does not recognize our dignity or our worth. We demand a Fund that can give adequate aid to everyone that has been left behind,” said Gloria Ramirez of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
“We thank the members of the New Jersey Latino Caucus for introducing and supporting a budget resolution to fully fund the Fund for Excluded New Jerseyans with nearly a $1 billion by providing $2,000 payments to everyone left behind from federal aid and launching an income replacement program for workers who lost their jobs. That is real relief. Senator Sarlo and leadership must recognize the dignity of so many workers who risked their lives to work during the pandemic – many of whom live in his district. With a $10 billion surplus, there are no excuses. Our state must fully fund the Fund for Excluded New Jerseyans. To do less is to allow nearly a half million people to continue to suffer,” said Sara Cullinane, Director of Make the Road New Jersey.
“While workers across the state continue to struggle putting food on the table, too many New Jerseyans are still excluded from pandemic relief,” said Vineeta Kapahi, Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). “The Legislature has a big opportunity to address this inequity and strengthen the state’s recovery from the current crisis. With an unprecedented crisis and unprecedented surplus, it is inexcusable to keep pushing excluded workers further behind. Politics should not get in the way of providing meaningful relief.”
“By refusing to fund excluded immigrant workers, the State has placed too many families in a place where they are out of money, out of food, and out of time. Fortunately, the State is not out of options. New Jersey can and must include immigrant families in the budget,” said Amy Torres, Executive Director at the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ). “In a state where a quarter million citizens live with an undocumented family member, we refuse to believe the false choice that communities must pick a top priority. When there is a direct line between debt, the criminalization of poverty, and detention and deportation, every issue the legislature considers is an immigrant priority. NJAIJ proudly stands united in the call to fund our families and free them from the threat of detention.”
“My children were home during the pandemic and I had to stay to take care of them and help with school work. My husband and I struggled to to put food on the table and we are still behind on our rent. We really need relief to get us through,” said Silvia Sastre of Wind of the Spirit.
On May 7, 2021, Gov. Murphy launched the Fund for Excluded New Jerseyans, a fund to provide one-time relief to low-income individuals excluded from federal relief programs that can prove they have been directly impacted by the pandemic. While this fund is a welcome first step, the initial $40 million allocated to the program will serve less than 10 percent of those individuals and families that are in need of aid.
The groups called on the state legislature to provide sufficient support for the Fund for Excluded New Jerseyans so that all people left behind from aid that are in need are able to access relief. That means $2,000 payments per excluded individual and unemployment-like benefits in the form of $600 per week payments to workers that have lost their jobs during the pandemic but do not qualify for unemployment insurance due to their immigration status. The total cost of this program is approximately $989 million