$7.5 Million Restoration Legislation Passed Both Houses June 28; Total Loss of Funding Now in 12th Day
(TRENTON) — Assembly Democrats Monday issued a multimedia package in which they continue to call on Gov. Chris Christie to take action on their legislation that would restore $7.5 million for women’s health programs in the state budget enacted July 1.
The package was issued as a majority of the Assembly Democratic caucus gathered outside of the governor’s State House offices, demanding that he take action on the legislation, which was passed by the Legislature on June 28 — the fourth such call from Assembly Democrats in two weeks.
The multimedia package features Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union), Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D-Union), Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex).
The multimedia package consists of a video of the news conference, audio of the same and a transcript of comments from featured members.
The video can be accessed directly via our website — www.assemblydems.com — or by clicking here.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments from featured members of the caucus is appended below:
Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union):
“We have strong support from many women. This is of vital importance to the women in this state and to the families of this state that he [Gov. Christie] sign a family planning bill and he sign it now. Majority Leader?”
Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D-Union):
“We stand here united as a caucus with firm belief that the governor should give us an answer now.
“And I want to be clear, as the Majority Leader, in consultation with the Speaker: if the governor vetoes this bill, we will put that override up in the Assembly. We do expect the same in the Senate. We will get this passed.”
Q: Has anybody had contact with the governor? Has he said he’s going to do it? Or is he just silent on all this?
“I had reached out on Friday, particularly for an appointment to meet today with him to discuss this, and they have been unable to find time in his schedule for us to meet with him on this subject.”
“We’ve been given no timeframe in terms of a decision. As you know, he has 45 days. I think the people of New Jersey deserve an answer. The women of New Jersey, in particular, deserve an answer today.”
Q: And you have the votes in your caucus for an override?
Q: And the Senate as well?
“The Senate already does, based on the initial vote.”
Q: And where do we go from here? I mean, will there be another day of this tomorrow and the next day and the next day? What happens next?
“Every day that we’re here is a good day to talk about family planning in the State of New Jersey and to ask for the governor to support this.”
Q: And, just to get this straight, you asked for a meeting with the front office and you’re just not getting one?
“That’s correct. And I also reached out to the lieutenant governor’s office and never got a call back from there.”
Q: And so you, at this point, no one’s telling you at all what he’s going to do? He’s just going to let it sit for 45 days or… ?
“The only constant here is this caucus’ commitment to women’s health. And that we’ll continue to do and make sure, one way or the other, through this legislation, that we get it done.”
Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-Passaic):
“Men and women. Men and women. Because family healthcare is really provided for both men and women and I think it’s important for us to be able to provide the much vital services to the additional 140,000 men and women that are currently not going to be provided the necessary family healthcare services that this vitally provides for. And I think it’s important for us to come every single day and protect the rights for making sure that those families out there — all men and women — can be provided that family healthcare service.”
Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex):
“This isn’t a man’s issue. It isn’t a woman’s issue. The governor makes a big deal out of political courage. Have some political courage. Sign it or veto it. We’ll deal accordingly. The majority leader has just indicated. But stop hiding in the office; sign it or veto it. That’s all we’re asking for.”
The legislation (S-2139/A-3019) would reverse Gov. Christie’s $7.5 million cut to family planning and women’s health services in New Jersey. It also would require the state to apply for an expansion of Medicaid coverage, to allow women between 134 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level — or earning between $29,547 and $44,100 a year in income — to receive family planning services under the Medicaid program. By expanding this enrollment, the state would receive $9 in federal reimbursement for every additional $1 spent for family planning services through the state’s Medicaid program.
The services provided under this bill involve contraception; routine gynecological exams; screening for high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes; breast and cervical cancer screening and education; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; HIV testing and counseling; pre-pregnancy counseling and education; pregnancy testing and confirmation; and prenatal care.
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