FAIRFIELD, N.J., Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- UNICO National today called upon New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to restore funding to the New Jersey Italian American Heritage Commission, which had its entire state funding eliminated in the Governor's 2011 fiscal year budget.
At UNICO's recent national convention in Hershey, PA, its members passed a unanimous resolution, sponsored by UNICO's Anti-Bias Committee led by Manny Alfano, urging Governor Christie to restore funding, and declaring outrage over the state's decision to leave funding for other ethnic commissions, but not the Italian American Heritage Commission. The state cut its entire $110,000 allotment.
"Italian Americans are the largest ethnic group in New Jersey and have made incalculable contributions to the State," said UNICO National President Chris DiMattio. "This is a terrible situation and Governor Christie should take immediate action to restore funding to the Italian American Heritage Commission. It is shocking since the Governor himself is Italian American, and this occurred to the exclusion of other ethnic commissions."
"We certainly encourage our members, all residents of New Jersey, and people across the nation to lobby the Governor and Legislature to restore this funding," DiMattio noted.
The New Jersey Italian American Heritage Commission was created in 2001 by the NJ Legislature, and signed into law by former Governor Donald DiFrancesco, after a campaign of support from citizens and Italian American organizations such as UNICO.
The goal was to create a state entity that would build and strengthen the cultural identity of Italians and Italian Americans through public educational programs in the State of New Jersey.
The New Jersey Italian American Heritage Commission was also created to preserve and promote an accurate, bias-free and non-stereotyped understanding and awareness of historical and current contributions and accomplishments of people of Italian heritage in New Jersey. More information about the commission can be found at: http://njitalia.nj.gov/news/foundation.htm
According to census reports, at least one quarter of New Jersey's population is of full or partial Italian descent - the State's largest ethnic group, who have helped build the State of New Jersey into one of the nation's most educated, most powerful, accomplished and successful states in the nation.
UNICO National, founded in 1922, is the largest Italian American service organization in America. Its volunteer members support charitable, educational and community service projects while promoting Italian heritage.
SOURCE UNICO National