Cavallo, who recently won admission to a competitive magnet high school in Morris County, said his teachers had shown him that anything is possible.
"If you were aware of the services [the teachers] provide, you would not let the budget cuts happen," he said.
Pam Ronan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services, said in an e-mail that 50 instructors would remain. She provided figures showing that the number of children needing those services had declined by 12 percent over a recent five-year period.
The reduction was one of many difficult decisions made to present a fiscally responsible, balanced budget to the governor, and was not a reflection of the quality each teacher brought to the program, according to the department.
In his budget address to the Legislature last month, Christie touted the need to keep spending in check and not automatically renew funding for every program.
On Tuesday, Anju Dharia testified that her 5-year-old son, who is legally blind as a result of a brain tumor, will attend kindergarten in a mainstream classroom at a Princeton public school because of the help provided by a teacher sent from the commission.
"Their services are irreplaceable, and both students and teachers need them and rely on them," she said.
Several legislators voiced outrage at the proposal, though they said they had not received details from the Christie administration.
"We are going to keep your teachers," Budget Committee Chairman Louis Greenwald (D., Camden) vowed.
"It's just appalling that we are sitting here and talking about depriving children of the ability to read and . . . taking away their chance to be part of society," Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D., Passaic) said.
Budget hearings this week are the start of the legislative process to get a state spending plan approved for the 2012 fiscal year by June 30.
Dozens of people receiving treatment for drug and alcohol abuse also came forward at the Tuesday hearing to make the case for preserving state funding for treating addictions, which some advocates said saves money to the state in the long run and is a cheaper alternative than incarceration.
Advocates also questioned some of Christie's proposed reductions in health care for needy residents. Those include plans to end Medicaid coverage for certain beneficiaries receiving prescription drugs, institute a $3 co-pay for medical day care, and reduce state reimbursements to nursing homes.
Studies show that co-pays for Medicaid "force the neediest citizens to make decisions that are not necessarily the best decisions," Lowell Ayre, executive director of the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities, told lawmakers.
Like some others who testified, Ayre voiced concern that Christie had yet to provide specifics on his proposal to save $300 million by seeking a federal waiver to overhaul Medicaid.
Christie is also proposing an additional $250 million in savings for the program, which faces a $1 billion funding shortfall as federal stimulus money is set to expire and enrollment soars.
His budget plan increases funding for charity care, however, by $10 million.
Paul Langevin, president of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, said he recognized that the coming budget would be a heavy lift for everyone.
But more than a fair share is being done on the backs of nursing facilities, which already lose $29 a day on average for every Medicaid beneficiary, he said.
Contact staff writer Maya Rao at 609-989-8990 or email@example.com.