Assembly Democrats Linda Stender, Pamela R. Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Gabriela Mosquera issued the following statements on Monday denouncing Gov. Chris Christie’s line-item veto of $7.5 million in funding for women’s health care from the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. The four lawmakers have sponsored legislation to restore the funding, which was included in the Democratic budget that passed on Thursday in the Assembly. Christie’s veto of the funding is the fifth in as many years.
“Gov. Christie once again has put appealing to a conservative base in states across the country above making sure women right here in New Jersey have the care they need. His actions today make it clear that he doesn’t trust women to make their own decisions about health care. It is condescending, but it is not surprising in the least,” said Stender (D-Middlesex/Union/Somerset). “This is simply the latest addition to the governor’s long record of failure when it comes to standing up for New Jersey’s women and families. It is a record that by no means reflects New Jersey’s core values. We know that women in this state are more than capable of making independent choices about their well-being. Chris Christie again has proven that either he doesn’t get it, or he simply doesn’t care.”
“At its core, a budget is a list of priorities. With this line-item veto, Gov. Christie confirms his belief that New Jersey’s women don’t have a place on that list,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee. “The restoration of $7.5 million in funding for women’s health care in the Democratic budget was about the recognition we can’t have a healthy New Jersey unless our state’s women – regardless of income level – are healthy.
“But this is about more than women; it is also about families. A woman who misses out on her mammogram or Pap smear one year may be the mother who misses out on dance recitals and soccer matches and birthdays the next. It’s a disgrace that New Jersey’s most vulnerable women and families have to suffer because Gov. Christie consistently fails to meet his moral obligation to protect them.”
“A woman’s right to affordable, comprehensive care that meets her individual needs is a human right. It is also one Gov. Christie has denied time and time again,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “The $7.5 million in funding for women’s health care included in the Democratic budget reflected our state’s core belief that every resident has a right to wellness and the freedom to make his or her own decisions about that wellness. The governor’s veto of this funding means that women among the middle class and working poor will still be without vital health services. What he seems not to understand is that this funding is a sound public health investment that will ultimately save taxpayers money. Instead of taking the opportunity to stand up for women and families, today Gov. Christie has set New Jersey back even further with this veto.”
“Whether we’re talking about ‘women’s health’ or ‘reproductive health’ or ‘preconception health,’ the common denominator is health,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We put together a budget that accounted for the fact that women in New Jersey are better workers, better mothers and better overall contributors to our state when they have the ability to stay well. Rather than recognizing that the funding in this budget would go a long way toward allowing our state’s women to address small health concerns before they become big ones and, ultimately, save our state money, Gov. Christie vetoed it. It is another display of this administration’s sheer lack of comprehension when it comes to what is best for the people of New Jersey.”
Since Gov. Chris Christie first eliminated this funding in the FY11 budget, Democratic legislators have continued to fight to restore $7.5 million to help provide women with access to 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; contraception; HIV testing and counseling; preconception counseling and education; pregnancy testing and prenatal care.