New Jersey Governor Vetoes Bill Meant to Restore Family Planning Funding
Once again, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vetoed a bill that would have restored family planning funds in the state. Last week the State Senate approved a bill, S-788, that would have restored nearly $7.5 million in family planning funding. Christie said he defunded family planning services two years ago for budget reasons, but critics have said Christie's decision was motivated by his anti-abortion stance. This bill would have funded the services through the Fiscal Year 2012 budget surplus, which is approximately $524 million.
"For two years, the Governor was able to hide behind the guise of fiscal prudence when vetoing this legislation," said Assemblywomen Bonnie Watson Coleman, the lead Assembly sponsor of the bill. "Given his rosy revenue projections for this year, there's no reason why he should excise this funding when it provides such critical services [to] women and low-income families. By continuing to make them the sacrificial lambs of his budget priorities, he's playing games with people's lives. These health centers provide important, life-saving services to those who would otherwise not have access to them. Since he first eliminated this funding, we've seen demonstrable drops in services."
Besides restoring the funding, the bill would have also required the state to file for a State Medicaid Plan Amendment, thereby expanding Medicaid funding of family planning services for those who meet income requirements. Multiple clinics in NJ have closed as a result of Christie's refusal to fund family planning.