The Department of Veterans Affairs is getting a $17 million house cleaning. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker was one of the senators who cosponsored the bill and he told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that he worked with people across the aisle on the issue, which means a lot to New Jerseyans.
“We have New Jerseyans who are veterans with very specific issues,” said Booker. “Some have to travel great distances into Philadelphia or Delaware for veterans treatment for hours and hours. They shouldn’t have to do that. There’s a better alternative.”
Booker also said there hasn’t been the necessary care for veterans and that some have come back to the country after service with traumatic brain injuries. He also said that a pilot program had been created to combat those issues but it was only given five years.
As one of New Jersey’s two U.S. senators, Booker said that his mission is to take action in a bipartisan manner.
“So my whole mission is to be a bridge builder around the issues that matter — putting people to work, helping people afford college, helping out our seniors and our veterans in the ways that give them more dignity and independence,” said Booker.
Meanwhile in Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka warned about the city’s $90 million budget deficit and how it might require state intervention. Booker said that while he was mayor of Newark, his administration had fixed many of the budget problems. He also said that once his time as mayor ended, he had left instructions on what needed to be done to keep the financial situation intact.
Since Baraka was elected as mayor, Booker said that he has met with him twice. Despite leaving instructions, Booker said that those benchmarks were not met.
According to Booker, it’s good that the Newark Police Department getting federal monitors. He said before the announcement of a monitor, the department had decades of problems.
Recently the mayors of Newark, Paterson and Jersey City formed a partnership to tackle their biggest problems such as crime, poverty and jobs. The cities of Trenton and Princeton have decided to form a partnership of their own as well. Booker said that the partnerships are a template for the future and that during his time as mayor he had formed partnerships to battle other issues.
As for the challenges ahead, Booker said he will continue to work on issues for New Jersey.
“Well for me it’s continuing to score pints for New Jersey and to get this veterans bill done,” Booker said. “That’s wonderful but New Jerseyans are still concerned about jobs, still concerned about public safety. They’re still concerned about their security. So I’m attacking a lot of those issues.”