Matthews, Seidman and Horn. The opinion of the court was delivered by Matthews, P.J.A.D.
This action was instituted in the Chancery Division, Hudson County, by the County of Hudson, the Treasurer of the county, the members of the Board of Chosen Freeholders for the county, individually and in their official capacities, and the Hudson County Council of Social Agencies, a private, nonprofit organization which coordinates all social services in the county. Defendants include various officers of the Executive Branch of the State Government, the Governor, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Department of Institutions and Agencies, individually and in their official capacities, and the remaining 20 counties. The County of Ocean, while nominally a defendant, has appeared and argued as if a plaintiff.
Plaintiffs allege the "Final Comprehensive Social Services Plan," which describes the types of services to be funded in New Jersey under the authorization subsumed in Title XX of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. , § 1397 et seq. , P.L. 93-647, § 2, 88 Stat. 2337, published on October 1, 1975 by the Commissioner of the Department
of Institutions and Agencies, reveals a "disparity between the percentage of funds allocated to social services programs for the benefit of residents of the County of Hudson and the percentage of eligible residents who reside in the County of Hudson * * *." Plaintiffs claim that although the County of Hudson contains between 11% and 15% of the population of the State deemed eligible to receive social services funded through Title XX under the income-level eligibility criteria advanced in the plan, social service programs for the benefit of residents of the county will receive only between 4% and 8% of the total federal appropriations allocated to the State under Title XX. It is contended that this disparity discloses a pattern of invidious discrimination, which bears no rational relationship to a legitimate state interest, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of N.J. Const. (1947), Art. I, para. 1, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and in contravention of the federal statute, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1397(a). Plaintiffs also argue that the Social Services Plan fails to comply with other provisions of the federal statute, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1397c(2)(I), 1397c(2)(J), 1397(c)(4). For relief, plaintiffs sought (1) a temporary restraining order, prohibiting defendants from implementing the Final Plan until reformed so as to allocate monies to social services programs for the benefit of Hudson County residents in fair proportion to the percentage of eligible New Jersey residents located within the County of Hudson; (2) the issuance of preliminary and permanent injunctions to accomplish the same purpose, and (3) any other relief considered proper.
Defendants State of New Jersey, Brendan T. Byrne, William F. Hyland, Ann Klein and the Department of Institutions and Agencies moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Chancery Division was without jurisdiction to entertain the action or to enter judgment against defendants. The Counties of Passaic, Hunterdon, Morris, Union and Somerset joined in that motion. The County
of Ocean originally joined in the motion but later withdrew. The trial judge transferred the matter on his own motion to the Appellate Division, R. 1:13-4(a), since he found that the complaint sought judicial review of the "action or inaction" of several state administrative officers.
Plaintiffs thereafter renewed their application for emergent relief of the Comprehensive Social Services Plan. R. 2:9-7. Plaintiffs also requested a remand of the cause to the Chancery Division for trial. We denied the motions. Plaintiffs then petitioned the Supreme Court for leave to appeal from our order withholding preliminary injunctive relief. The motion was denied.
The New Jersey Comprehensive Social Services Plan for Fiscal Year 1976 (Plan) provides for the expenditure of $116,088,361 in federal, state and local funds in the delivery of 23 social services to eligible residents of the State. Federal monies, authorized and appropriated under Title XX, constitute the major part (75% or $87,750,000) of the financing for the program. The State has contributed $12,696,578, county and municipal public agencies $11,326,665, and private donors $4,314,938, to form the "local match" for the generation of federal reimbursement, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1397a. (a)(1). The State anticipated that services would be furnished to approximately 396,279 individuals in fiscal year 1976.
Title XX consolidates the administration of social services programs and federal financial assistance formerly provided to the states under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 601 et seq. , Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and Title VI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 801 et seq. , Grants to States for Services to Aged, Blind, Or Disabled (SSI). Services are provided to eligible recipients by the county welfare boards, the district offices of the Division of Youth and Family Services, various other divisions and departments of the State Government (through interdepartmental
and intradepartmental agreements) and private agencies under purchase of service contracts.
Title XX expanded the classification of eligible recipients and the range of beneficial services that a state might furnish with matching federal funds. Under Title IV-A, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 602(a)(13), (a)(14), (a)(15)(A), (a)(19)(G), § 606(d) and accompanying federal regulations, 45 C.F.R. §§ 220.15 to 220.24, social service plans of participating states, to warrant federal reimbursement, 42 U.S.C.A. § 603(a)(3)(A), were required to provide eight "mandatory" services to AFDC recipients or applicants and former or anticipated AFDC recipients and applicants who met specified eligibility criteria based upon income level. These services for families and children included employment assistance (45 C.F.R. § 220.17), child care services (45 C.F.R. § 220.18), foster care (45 C.F.R. § 220.19), prevention and reduction of out-of-wedlock births (45 C.F.R. § 220.20), family planning (45 C.F.R. § 220.21), services to meet particular needs of families and children (45 C.F.R. § 220.22), protective services, (45 C.F.R. § 220.23), and services related to health needs (45 C.F.R. §§ 220.24, 220.52). Under Title VI, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 802(a)(8), (a)(11)(A), 805, and federal administrative rules enacted pursuant thereto, 45 C.F.R. §§ 222.41 to 222.47, states could seek reimbursement, 42 U.S.C.A. § 803(a)(1), for seven social services afforded to current SSI recipients or applicants or former or anticipated SSI beneficiaries. A schedule of optional services for which reimbursement was available was likewise contained in the regulations. The passage of Title XX, however, was not ...