By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
Surrounded by a host of urban leaders in Irvington, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono vowed to address the needs of the poor and middle class if she’s elected.
“I will be the kind of governor that puts our middle class, our working poor first. This is a governor who, all of his policies have been to coddle millionaires to ensure that everybody that already has their share keeps it,” Buono said.
Buono released her urban revitalization plan — much of it a compilation of previously announced initiatives. It would address gun violence, increase the minimum wage, fund schools based on the reform act and expand early childhood education.
“Education was my ticket out of poverty. We cannot be indifferent as this governor has been to the hardships of our low income families. That means investing in education,” Buono said.
To help small minority-owned businesses in communities like Irvington, Buono says she’ll push for programs to support women and minorities. And she wants to convert foreclosed properties into affordable housing to help stabilize communities hit hard by foreclosures.
“This governor vetoed three times legislation that would have transformed foreclosed homes into affordable housing,” Buono said.
Buono didn’t have specifics on how she’d pay for her plan. She says it comes down to funding priorities and maintaining a commitment to help New Jersey’s urban communities.
“I’ve always stood up for the disenfranchised. I have always stood up for those who do not have a voice. And I will continue to do that,” she said.
Buono also took a stab at Gov. Chris Christie’s environmental record. At a press conference hosted by Environment New Jersey in Jersey City earlier today, Buono said the governor’s decision to pull New Jersey out of RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, was a blow to the state’s environment and economy.
“He said that it was a failure and it was for fiscal reasons, but the fact is sustaining our environment and advancing our economy are not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to make a choice. In fact, they can go hand in hand. In fact, they did go hand in hand with respect to RGGI,” Buono said.
“Gov. Christie and New Jersey should rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and lead the way in cutting pollution from power plants that serve to only increase extreme weather events,” said Environment New Jersey Field Organizer Dan DeRosa.
Buono also called Christie a flip flopper on climate change, an issue she says you can’t dismiss after seeing the wrath of storms like Sandy and Irene.