TRENTON, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — New Jersey lawmakers are demanding answers about the controversial ‘Return Home New Jersey’ program.
On Wednesday night, Governor Chris Christie dodged questions, but on Thursday CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider went to Trenton to get answers from legislators.
There was sympathy from New Jersey lawmakers who have seen CBS 2’s stories, and heard from the family members of disabled adults like Drew Adams and Kara Anderson.
Now, as the fall legislative session begins democrats and republicans are working to overturn the state’s decision to take them out of their treatment facilities and put them into group homes.
“I’m a parent and I understand exactly where these individuals are coming from and I’d be doing the same thing if my child was in their situation,” Senator Kip Batemen (R) Somerville, said.
Sen. Batemen spent an hour in a closed door session, along with his 14 republican colleagues, grilling Department of Human Services Commissioner Jen Velez.
“We’re telling families we’re doing everything we can to protect their loved ones and we’re trying to make certain if they are moved they’ll get the care they deserve,” Bateman said, “We haven’t overridden the governor yet, but this is a very important issue.”
Bateman said he could not commit to an override of the veto until all of his answers had been met.
Democratic lawmakers said they were counting votes and could make it happen.
“I thought the governor’s conditional veto was heartless,” Sen. Robert Gordon (D) Fair Lawn said.
While none of Christie’s vetoes has ever been overridden, Gordon said he was confident that it could be done.
“I think there’s going to be a first time, and the time has arrived,” he said.
The Christie administration insisted that the transfers need to happen to comply with state law and to cut costs.
“We had a special election this year that cost an additional $24-million. It’s okay to that, but when you’re dealing with flesh and blood issues, we’re not willing to spend the money? Just seems like an inappropriate set of priorities,” Sen. Gordon said.
Lawmakers said that they need to act fast, and that a vote to override Christie’s veto could come as soon as next week.
Commissioner Velez has promised to meet with some families affected next week.
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