Category Archives: Loretta Weinberg

>N.J. Republicans look to restore $7.5 million for women’s health care; Action comes after they opposed two Democratic bills to do the same

>Now that it’s coming down to crunch-time with the state budget and the entire state assembly is up for re-election this year, 13 republicans have decided to join the Democratic bandwagon and support women’s heath issues by looking to restore $7.5 million to the budget that Governor Christie decided wasn’t necessary.

These Republicans, lead by Assemblyman Domenick DiCicco (R-Camden), have opposed this measure for the better part of 18 months and are only now joining forces with the Democrats because polling has shown that Governor Christie’s job rating has plummeted among women and they are now vulnerable on the issue.

It’s a classic example of flip-flopping on an issue in order to secure votes in an election year, on an issue that is extremely important to many of their constituents. But I wonder how hard they will actually fight for women’s health funding once the Governor comes down on them?

The following article written by Tom Hester Sr., appeared over on NewJerseyNewsroom.com:

Much to the surprise of Democratic women legislators who have tried for over a year to get Gov. Chris Chirstie to the restore $7.5 million he cut out of the 2010-11 state budget for women’s health care, 13 Republican Assembly members on Friday announced they are sponsoring a resolution to restore the aid to the shaping 2011-12 budget.

Assemblywomen Linda Stender (D-Union) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) responded to the announcement by describing the unexpected Republican action as an 11th hour political ploy designed to pander to the women they have abandoned for the last 18 months.”

As recent as May 19, Christie disapproved of restoring the $7.5 million. In the past year, he vetoed Democratic bills to restore the aid. Republican legislators have supported the governor’s position.

The Republican resolution stresses that no money could be used for so-called family planning. Democratic women legislators insist the money would not go toward funding abortions.

The resolution was announced at the end of a week that featured the release of a Quinnipiac University poll that showed Republican Christie’s job rating has plummeted among women. All 120 seats in the Legislature are up for re-election in November.


Assemblyman Domenick DiCicco (R-Camden), the prime sponsor of the new resolution, said, “Everyone wants to provide healthcare for our neediest women and their children and this resolution will make that possible responsibly and compassionately. This funding is an effective use of our resources to make sure that every dollar we spend is used to treat disease or to keep women and children healthy.”

The resolution would allocate the $6.2 million to federal qualified health centers and $1.3 million for New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection.

No money would be allotted to Planned Parenthood and the resolution would change budget language from “family planning services” to “women and family health services.”

“This is an effective way to actually funding women’s health services without getting lost in political debate,” DiCicco said. “Anyone who is truly concerned about the well-being of New Jersey’s most vulnerable women and children can support this approach.”

When Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) introduced legislation to restore the $7.5 million on May 19. Michael Drewniak, Christie’s press secretary, said of the Democrats’ action, “It’s predictable that the majority party in the Legislature, led by Senator Sweeney, can’t resist the urge to open the public’s wallet as soon as a few extra dollars become available. We cannot throw out the sensible budgeting practices we’ve put in place just because of a modest increase in tax revenue.”

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, Loretta Weinberg, Medicaid, New Jersey Newsroom, women's health issues

NJPP Monday Minute 6/28/10: WHY THE BUDGET FALLS SHORT FOR VULNERABLE FAMILIES

There has been much fanfare regarding the restoration of a few programs that serve vulnerable people in the FY 2011 budget. But make no mistake; the budget expected to pass the Legislature today requires the greatest sacrifice from vulnerable working families hit hardest by the recession.

Let’s put the restorations in perspective. They amount to about $68 million, not including PAAD which was restored in an earlier separate agreement, in a budget which would spend just over $28 billion. As the governor’s chief of staff pointed out, these restorations amount to only about two-tenths of a percent (.02%) of the total state budget. He thought that was a good thing.

The Anti-Poverty Network indentified 26 programs (see list below) that were cut in the Christie budget that primarily affect the most vulnerable: low and moderate income families; the elderly; and people with disabilities. The list is conservative in that it does not include program cuts to items such as transportation and education, which serve mostly middle class and higher income groups as well as large numbers of low income people. The budget restorations only fund seven of those programs, leaving $262 million in program cuts to the most vulnerable.

The largest restoration was in General Assistance, which provides temporary financial assistance to unemployed adults without children. The Christie budget would have eliminated the entire $140 a month stipend, which is often the only source of income they have. The Legislature and the governor are to be commended for at least partially restoring this vital safety net program.

However, the administration did not restore cuts to the two largest programs that help vulnerable families remain independent. State and federal funding for New Jersey FamilyCare, which provides affordable health insurance for children and certain low income parents or guardians, was reduced by about $100 million. Enrollment has already been closed for parents with incomes between 133 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($24,352 to $36,620 for a parent with two children). This cut will be continued in FY 2011 resulting in 39,000 uninsured parents being denied health insurance at the same time many employers are dropping health coverage. Also, about 11,700 legal immigrant parents who have been in this country less than five years and currently receive health insurance through FamilyCare will lose their coverage altogether.

The state Earned Income Tax Credit was cut by $45 million, which will in effect increase taxes for 485,000 lower income households. At the same time, the governor refused to continue higher tax rates on those in the uppermost brackets, households with more than $400,000 in annual income. About 77 percent of the households that received the state EITC are working families with children. A parent earning the minimum wage in a full time job ($15,000) with two children will see his or her taxes increase by $300 as a result of this action. Taxes for wealthy households, on the other hand, will be cut by thousands of dollars.

It is also disturbing that the governor has opposed legislation which would restore the funds for the state EITC, if federal funds become available specifically for this purpose. Congress appears likely to act on legislation that would make $120 million in emergency contingency funds available to New Jersey without costing the state a dime. But the administration has rejected a budget resolution from Sen. Shirley Turner which would require that if such funds become available in FY 2011 they would be used to restore the state EITC cutback.

While the budget treats each of these programs separately, the cutbacks will have a cumulative impact on vulnerable families. Virtually all of the families that will lose or be denied health coverage in FamilyCare will also have the state EITC reduced. Many of these same families will also be denied vital supports like family planning, school breakfast, legal services, and affordable housing. None of the cuts in these programs have been restored in this budget. The combined effect on some families will be devastating and have long term consequences for them and the state’s economy.

Attempts are being made to restore some of these funds to vulnerable families in separate legislation. Senator Loretta Weinberg has introduced a bill to restore funding for family planning and Senator Joseph Vitale and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald have bills to restore funding for FamilyCare. If these bills pass the legislature, however, the governor is likely to veto these bills, as he did when the legislature passed a millionaires’ tax increase a month ago.

What some see as fiscal conservatism might be seen by others as plain mean-spiritedness.

It would appear that the deal on the FY 2011 budget is final but the fight to protect and support struggling working families in this high cost state must continue.


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Filed under budget cuts, budget deficit, Gov. Chris Christie, Loretta Weinberg, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ FamilyCare, poverty, tax credits