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 EDITORIAL: EMT funds should be fully restored


(Sept. 16, 2010) — This week, The Leader continues its extensive report on the ongoing controversy over the state’s diminished funds to train and recertify EMTs in the state. Read Chris Neidenberg’s story on Page A3 in the print edition.

The news story is the rare case where just about every side in the political sphere is wrong, and the consequences of their decisions can have drastic repercussions.

Under the administration of Gov. Jon S. Corzine, the EMT fund was cut substantially. Local Democratic legislators, including state Sen. Paul Sarlo and Assemblymen Gary Schaer and Fred Scalera, approved the budget with the drastic reduction.

Governor Chris Christie inherited an enormous deficit and chose to keep the EMT funding at its newly reduced level. Although there have been promises made that the money will soon become available, there are no clear indications that any funds will materialize. Schaer said that he was promised by the Christie administration that the money would become available if necessary. Christie’s team said it had no idea what the legislator was talking about.

Although the state continues to be in dire economic straits, taking away much-needed funds from EMTs is simply the wrong direction to take when looking to close the budget gap. The volunteer EMTs in the Meadowlands area, and throughout the state, work tirelessly on behalf of their communities. They rush to emergencies, leaving behind their personal and professional lives, to help people in need.

To pull the carpet out from underneath these dedicated EMTs is a huge slap in the face.

The fact that two governors have now opted for reduced funds is doubly wrong. Yes, willing EMTs can find the funds to recertify and take required courses through various grant-writing programs. But the message from the state is loud and clear: we do not value your hard work, at least not enough to make your efforts economically secure.

If the Democrats and Republicans in Trenton could sit down and talk seriously about restoring these funds, the consequences could be stunning. Until this political compromise takes place, the reality of the situation is still bleak.

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