Assemblywomen Linda Stender, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Celeste Riley, Connie Wagner and Pamela Lampitt today deemed Governor Christie’s decision to once again veto $7.5 million for women’s health care a continued affront to women, children and taxpayers throughout New Jersey. The funding had been restored in the democratic budget passed yesterday, but the Governor eliminated it through a line-item veto today.
“Once again, the Governor has made it clear that it is more important for him to pander to the conservative right wing media than to support programs that benefit some of the most vulnerable residents he was elected to represent,” said Stender (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “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.”
“At every opportunity, the Governor has chosen to marginalize the needs of working-class women,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This was a sound investment that not only protects public health, but saves taxpayers money. The Governor’s decision-making pattern, whether it’s on women’s health or environmental issues, continues to put New Jersey on a backward trajectory.”
“The Governor cannot claim to be making decisions purely from a fiscal perspective when this funding would save the state countless dollars in the long-run,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “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 health needs of poor and working-class families – especially women, mothers and newborns – cannot simply be written off to balance the state’s books, but that’s exactly what the governor continues to do,” said Wagner (D-Bergen). “We have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us, but apparently the Governor is more interested in how he appears to his national, conservative base.”
“Spending cuts are needed, but they must be the right ones, not ones that attack the quality of life and health care of thousands of our most vulnerable,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “We put together a budget that represented true shared sacrifice and the Governor has responded by, once again, putting the needs of the wealthiest first.”
Since Governor Christie first eliminated this funding in last year’s budget, the lawmakers have continued to fight to restore $7.5 million to help provide roughly 131,000 women, children and families 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, pre-pregnancy counseling and education; pregnancy testing and confirmation and prenatal care.
Over the last year, the Governor’s cuts in funding have forced many clinics to scale back their services and hours and six clinics throughout the state have closed, including the Bayonne Women’s Health Center, the Dover Health Center, FamCare in Millville, and two sites operated by the Burlington County Health Department in Browns Mills and Mount Holly.