Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo and Eliana Pintor Marin joined together on Tuesday to condemn Gov. Christie’s “annual veto” of legislation they sponsored that would have restored funding for critical health services for low and middle income women and their families, calling it a continued affront to women, children and taxpayers throughout New Jersey.
The two-bill package would have restored the $7.5 million Gov. Christie has routinely eliminated for women’s health centers since taking office (A-3672, sponsored by Mazzeo), and also expanded Medicaid coverage under federal law to help serve some of the state’s poorest women (A-4604, sponsored by Pintor Marin).
“In the beginning, the governor at least attempted to hide behind the guise that this was all about a lack of funding,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Now he doesn’t even bother to pretend that’s the case when he crows to Republican voters in other states about his repeated vetoes of critical health funding for some of the poorest women in our state. This is shameful political pandering at the expense of some of our most vulnerable. The health needs of poor and working-class families – especially women, mothers and newborns – cannot simply be written off because of ideology, but that’s exactly what the governor continues to do.”
“Once again, the Governor has made it clear that it is more important for him to pander to the most conservative wing of his party than to support programs that benefit some of the most vulnerable residents he was elected to represent,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Restoring this funding would have saved lives and money and protected low and middle income women from being relegated to the shadows under the governor’s agenda. This is an investment we should be making and the governor’s continued refusal to do so tragically ignores the health and well-being of many New Jersey women and children.”
The sponsors noted that in 2009 this funding helped support life-saving services for over 136,000 patients, including cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STIs, breast health services, Pap tests and other health screenings.
As a direct result of the governor’s cut, six out of 58 women’s health and family planning centers closed while other health centers had to cut back staff or hours. In 2013, New Jersey’s family planning providers saw at least 37,000 fewer patients compared with 2009 – a 27 percent drop in patients served.