Category Archives: women’s health issues

OP-ED: Governor Rex Christie

In light of the big game tonight, Josh Henne sent me a link to this op-ed he wrote on the striking similarities between Rex Ryan & Chris Christie. It appears over at PolitickerNJ:

In a sea of vanilla coaches and milquetoast politicians, Jets Coach Rex Ryan and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have burnished reputations for bluster, bullying and bombast. They’re tailor-made for the attention-deficit, me-first, sizzle-over-substance society we live in. A splashy quote, a bold claim with a curse-word thrown in for good measure…and bickety-bam you’ve got a nice hit on the nightly news or a clip to go viral online. Sure, these two men can be considered refreshing. But so is a colonic. And you certainly don’t want to deal with either on a daily basis.

It stands to reason these two larger-than-life characters stand out – because Christie and Ryan both furnish the media with quality copy and soundbites. However, there’s a fine line between being charming and becoming a caricature of yourself. And leaders are afforded a short rope before folks start realizing the rhetoric doesn’t match the results. In recent months, Christie and Ryan have planted their feet firmly on the wrong side of both accounts.

The beauty of both politics and the playing field is that these arenas are results-oriented. The metrics of wins and accomplishments are the only ones that matter. It’s not just about who can talk the biggest game. And the shtick employed by both Christie and Ryan runs thin once you scratch the surface of their swagger.

No one remembers football teams who never make it to the big game – no matter how many times their coach promises a trip to the Super Bowl. Rex believes if he yells loud enough folks will forget choking in the conference championship or failing to even make the playoffs. If Ryan makes himself the story, perhaps fans won’t notice his team regressing or his quarterback failing to grow.

In politics, its hard to take someone seriously who hogs the spotlight, bashes his own state to pander to Iowa crowds and tosses the word “hell” into public statements like a twelve-year old who just discovered cursing. It’s difficult to believe someone is authentic when they pack taxpayer-funded townhall meetings with partisan backers and care more about generating youtube moments than results. It’s hard to take Governor Christie at his word as he pledges poverty when cutting essential programs, yet miraculously finds funds to give handouts and bailouts to casino execs, mall developers and those at the tippy top of the economic strata.

The words “doing the big thing” are often shouted to the rafters by Chris Christie. Yet if you look at actual results, he comes up small every time. New Jersey lags the nation when it comes to employment. And no matter how many times Christie claims he hasn’t raised taxes, all anyone has to do is hold up a train ticket, scan a tuition bill from a state university or look at their property taxes to see swelling costs.

Both Christie and Ryan have an amazing ability to change the topic following failures. Rex shoots off his mouth after a loss, giving excuses while still calling his team the one to beat – no matter how badly he was outcoached by those who might not be as flashy, but have more substance. When Christie skipped town with an historic blizzard bearing down on his state, the governor refused to take responsibility and even blamed local mayors when he finally came home from his Disney vacation. When New Jersey’s children lost $400 million in Race to the Top funding because his administration bungled a simple application, Christie first blamed Barack Obama and then threw his own Education Commissioner under the bus.

Chris Christie might not share Rex Ryan’s predilection for sucking on toes. But the governor does spend an inordinate amount of time and energy sucking up to the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove and corporate lobbyists. And that’s a far more nefarious fetish. Because these one-percenters are seeking to scale back regulations in order to better their bottom line – even if it means poisoning New Jersey’s land, air and water. In Christie’s New Jersey, middle-class families find themselves in harms way time and again.

Like Rex Ryan, Christie’s image as a take-charge guy rings hollow when you see the rudderless execution of plans. Womens’ health, infrastructure improvements and education efforts have all been defunded. Cops and firefighters receive pink slips, while crime escalates. And Christie has no vision for the future – as evidenced by cancelling the ARC Tunnel linking to Manhattan which would have taken cars off the road, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, raised home values and created 6,000 immediate jobs and 45,000 future jobs.

On the playground, the cardinal rule is that when you’ve got a big mouth you’ve got to be able to back it up. The quickest way to shut up a bully is to call them out. And for all their blunt statements and bold claims, folks are finally catching onto the Christie-Ryan playbook. The coach and the governor have both elevated the bar with inflated achievement to the point that even slight improvements would seem mundane when the tale of the tape is truly told. More and more, their exhortations are being met with eyerolls and yawns.

With his annual guarantees of a Super Bowl victory, yet failing to even make the playoffs this year, Rex Ryan is clearly no second coming of Joe Namath. And Chris Christie…well, let’s just hope he goes the way of Sarah Palin. A one-term governor with a big personality who burst onto the national scene and became addicted to the adulation to the point of diminishing returns and eventual ridicule.

What society needs – in all facets of life – are leaders of substance focused on results, not their own ego or personal gratification. Clearly, Coach Ryan and Governor Christie care more about creating headlines than making a real difference. We should treat them like a parent dropping off a crying kid at nursery school. All they want is attention, so if we just walk away hopefully they’ll get the hint and cut the act.

Josh Henne is a Democratic strategist and a Giants fan.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arc Tunnel, bullying, cops and firefighters, Gov. Chris Christie, Josh Henne, middle-class families, New Jersey, NY Giants, NY Jets, Op-Ed, PolitickerNJ, Rex Ryan, Super Bowl, women's health issues

Senator Buono Letter to the Editor – Cervical Cancer Month

There were no flashing lights or red flags that let 4,000 women across this country know that cervical cancer was coming.

Most of these women – mothers, sisters, daughters, and aunts – felt no pain and lived normally unaware of the disease that in a matter of time would take their lives.

Most of these women – the majority of whom were under the age of 65 – are survived by friends and family, neighbors and co-workers who loved them and miss their presence daily.

All of these women – casualties of an illness that is 100 percent preventable – should still be here today.

Although the ubiquitous pink ribbons we all see each October may be more prevalent than the teal and white emblems symbolizing cervical cancer awareness in January, we cannot ignore the fact that each year 12,000 women in the United States receive a life-changing diagnosis that they have the disease.

More than ever before, we have the resources to ensure that cervical cancer becomes a thing of the past. In addition to regular Pap smears that can lead to early detection and treatment of the disease, young women under the age of 26 may receive a vaccine against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the most common cause of cervical cancer. Federal health care reform provisions effective this August will make these services more affordable and thus more accessible. It is critically important – and potentially life-saving – that every young woman meets with her doctor to discuss these preventative measures.

In the state of New Jersey, this is an important time to think about just how crucial funding for women’s health centers really is. When Governor Christie cut $7.5 million of this support from the budget, he denied many women access to the examinations and care that help prevent and treat diseases that most affect them, including cervical cancer. As a husband and the father of two beautiful young daughters, one would expect that the governor would acknowledge the gravity of this funding.

Just last year, a young woman from Marlboro, through strength and faith, was able to overcome cervical cancer. But her road to being cancer-free was not an easy one. After starting her first full-time job, she went to the doctor for the first time in three years, a practice that had become irregular due to her lack of health insurance after graduating from college. Shortly after that visit, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She did not feel sick. She did not look sick. But it took a decade of chemotherapy, radiation, and a hysterectomy – which left her infertile – for her to make a full recovery.

She is just 35.

This is not a matter of our principles and personal beliefs; it’s about memorializing the 4,000 women who died last year and honoring the young woman from Marlboro and other survivors by making sure that we learn, act, and move forward.

Sincerely,

Senator Barbara Buono
18th Legislative District

Leave a comment

Filed under cervical cancer, Gov. Chris Christie, HPV virus, letter to the editor, Marlboro NJ, Pap smears, Senator Barbara Buono, women's health issues

As A Matter Of Fact…Budget vetoes: The scorpion and the frog

July 6th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

By Mary E. Forsberg, Research Director

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”

This parable has many variations: the scorpion and turtle; the snake and dog; the viper and farmer. What each variation has in common is a bad actor, a character who can’t play fair, even if it means he might perish.

Those who are reading the press these days may recognize certain similarities with the current state of politics in New Jersey. And the Democratic leadership surely is croaking now.

It wasn’t a surprise that the governor wielded his ax against the Millionaires’ tax and women’s health programs. He did it before. He said he would do it again and he did it.

What was surprising, though, were the other cuts that had nothing to do with policy and everything to do with the very nature of his leadership. The cuts are unprecedented and go beyond any reasonable policy and fiscal considerations.

The Legislature

The budgets of the Executive office, the Legislature and the Judiciary have always been sacrosanct; a “gentleman’s agreement” has traditionally given each responsibility for its own budget and spending.

No governor before has chopped 41 percent from the Legislature’s staff salary accounts, but that’s exactly what the governor did. And he did it with a dose of venom, saying:

“The budget as adopted by the Legislature relied upon exaggerated revenue estimates, flawed assumptions concerning fund balances and ignored the harsh reality of its spending decisions. This reduction, among many others enumerated herein necessitated reductions of known surpluses, imprudent spending and other excesses.”

People who have noticed this salary cut haven’t made much of it. But the fact is, it has the potential to shift the balance of power in the legislative branch. Here’s how that works.

The salary accounts that the governor cut will not affect the salaries of legislators or those of their district office staff. The ones cut supported the Democratic and Republican legislative committee aides and the people who run the partisan staff offices in Trenton. Money for those salaries is appropriated to the Senate and Assembly in a lump sum and is divided based on which party is in the majority – the majority party (currently the Democrats) gets more of the money, has a bigger staff and has the larger suite of offices.

Unless the Legislature overrides this veto with a 2/3 vote (which would require the support of both parties), the staff of those offices will be significantly reduced. How these cuts are shared will be up to the majority Democrats in the Senate and Assembly. And as Assembly Speaker Oliver, a Democrat, was quoted as saying, “I’m certainly not going to shoot myself in the foot.”

Whether the governor understands this or not, a greatly reduced Republican partisan staff in Trenton is certainly a possible outcome of this line item veto.

Higher Education

Students and institutions of higher education felt the sting of the governor’s veto, which cut full-time and part-time Tuition Aid Grants (TAG) below even his own budget recommendation in March. He reduced the Democrats’ appropriation by $48.5 million, even though the amount in the Democrat’s budget was only $21.3 million more than his budget recommended.

In another unusual veto, the governor reduced the number of state-funded positions at each college by nearly 1,200 positions overall. This veto is an easy one to overlook and understanding it isn’t straightforward. What it means, however, is that the governor is reducing the state’s obligation to pay fringe benefits costs for these positions and is transferring those costs to the colleges – all without prior consultation and at the last minute. It is a backhanded way of again reducing the state’s responsibility for its higher education system. For Rutgers University and the Agricultural Experiment Station, this represents a 6 percent loss; for the other colleges, a 5 percent loss.

The veto message was again venomous. He blames the Legislature for this cost shift, saying:

“The Legislature’s failure to appropriately fund health benefit costs for all state employees necessitated a reduction in the state’s support of employee fringe benefits at all public institutions of higher education.”

Legal Services to the Poor

If you are poor in New Jersey and have a legal problem, save it until next year – maybe. Like the TAG scholarship, legal services will be significantly less than even what the governor proposed in his March budget.

His veto eliminated all state funding ($600,000) for the legal clinics at Seton Hall University Law School, Rutgers Newark Law School and Rutgers Camden Law School. In March he budgeted each of them for $200,000 apiece.

He also apparently took umbrage at the additional $5 million included by the Democrats in their budget for Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides legal services to poor people in civil matters. He cut that budget by $10 million – leaving Legal Services of New Jersey with a smaller budget than he recommended in March.

Cleaning up New Jersey

The Governor’s veto cut $18.8 million or 16 percent of the amount he recommended in March for Department of Environmental Protection programs that safeguard and preserve the state’s environment – for remediation of hazardous waste, underground storage tanks, monitoring water, and dealing with diesel pollution. Funding for these programs comes from a 4 percent constitutional dedication of corporate business tax (CBT) revenues. The effort by the governor and some in the Legislature to ensure that New Jersey is “open for business” by doing away with regulations and reducing corporate taxes means less money is available to protect New Jersey’s environment.

The moral of the budget

No one expected the governor to move away from his ideological position on funding health care for women or to abdicate his protection of the wealthiest in the state from the Millionaire’s tax, which would have added an additional 1.78 percent to their income tax bills this year.

But the veto message this year went beyond negotiation and fair play. There are consequences to every action. The scorpion’s sting meant death to both the scorpion and the frog. The consequences of this veto message are a less prosperous state and an increase in the chasm that separates the state’s wealthy from everyone else.

For a complete list of the governor’s line item vetoes, see the chart


Leave a comment

Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Democrats, Gov. Chris Christie, line item veto, Millionaire'sTax, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Budget, veto override, women's health issues, working poor

>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.”

Continue reading Here

Leave a comment

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

>NJPP: In the end-game for the NJ state budget, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

>

June 20th 2011,

Dear Supporters,

Over the next two weeks – as the Legislature rushes to produce a budget that won’t drown in the ink from the line-item veto pen – we’re all too likely to fully realize the “new normal” that Governor Christie talked about when he proposed his budget four months ago.

It goes something like this:

Rich people and corporations get tax breaks.

The middle class will pay more.

We will all have to make do with less.

Instead of a balanced approach that includes revenues – like the courageous governor of Connecticut proposed – New Jersey’s budget relies only on cuts in services.

Instead of finding ways to invest in building blocks of a strong economy – schools, police, libraries, health care, parks, roads and bridges – the governor has dug in even further, promising to veto any tax increase, including a tax on millionaires’ incomes that has overwhelming public support. Even as state revenues start to rise a bit in the recession’s wake, the administration in Trenton insists we can’t afford:

Health care for working parents if they earn more than $115 a week.

Women’s health care at family planning clinics, even though it means missing out on federal matching funds, an increase in unintended pregnancies and higher costs to treat uninsured patients.

Maintaining the state Earned Income Tax Credit for working poor families, who have seen their taxes increase by $300 a year – the equivalent of a week’s wages – while the wealthiest got a tax cut.

Meanwhile, the state has found more than enough money to hand out $1 billion in subsidies and tax breaks for developers and corporations, including some of the most profitable businesses in the state. Extensive research and plain old common sense show that these giveaways don’t create jobs.

That’s where we come in.

As we have for 14 years, NJPP is shining a spotlight on important policy decisions with the goal of having a state government that promotes broadly shared prosperity for all New Jerseyans instead of picking winners and losers.

We’re proud to be a leading voice for fairness in New Jersey, using solid research and strategic communications to strongly advocate for those who have the smallest voices in the public arena – the poor, working families, the disabled and other vulnerable people in our society.

And we couldn’t do it without you.

NJPP’s generous supporters understand why our work is so important to the vision of New Jersey they want for themselves and their children.

You’ve received several emails from us in the past week highlighting our work.

Now, we are asking for your help.

Please click on the “donate” button below and give to NJPP today.

By contributing you will enable NJPP to keep digging deeper into tough policy issues and widely share our findings to make a difference in people’s lives. Every donation counts, whether it’s $1,000 to print and publish one of our reports or $50 to cover the cost of copying documents requested through the Open Public Records Act.

As you follow what’s going on in Trenton with the budget and other issues over the next couple of weeks, I ask that you keep in mind the work New Jersey Policy Perspective is doing and the role that you can play.

Together, we can create a “new normal” that lifts up every one of us, not just the privileged few.

Thanks so much for your support – past and future.

Sincerely,

Deborah Howlett, President

DONATE

Leave a comment

Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, line item veto, Middle Class, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Budget, OPRA requests, tax breaks for the rich, Uncategorized, women's health issues

>As a Matter Of Fact…State losing out on 9-1 match;NJ would save $45 million a year if it invested $7.5 million in family planning

>
May 23rd, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

At a time when New Jersey doesn’t have a penny to spare, the state is leaving money on the table – perhaps millions of dollars a year in federal funds that could provide family planning services to poor, uninsured women.

Not only has Governor Christie refused to continue the program that provides state grants to family planning clinics across the state (he vetoed a $7.5 million appropriation sponsored by Sen. Weinberg), the state has withdrawn its application for a Medicaid waiver that would have provided a 9-to-1 federal match of state funds that paid family planning expenses for women at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. To put it in simpler terms, under the waiver known as the Family Planning State Option the federal government would provide $9 million for every $1 million that New Jersey spent.

According to estimates from the widely-respected Guttmacher Institute, the Family Planning State Option would save New Jersey $3 million in the first year alone. After the first year, it would:

• Save the state $45 million every year.
• Provide basic medical care to over 80,000 people every year, including not just family planning but other preventive care such as cancer screenings.

• Help thousands of low income women who want to avoid pregnancy do just that – averting 4,000 abortions and 6,000 births every year.

See the full report here.

Twenty-eight states currently receive matching funds and all have seen substantial cost savings. According to estimates by the National Academy of Health Safety Policy, the savings over five years range from $75 million in Arkansas to more than $2 billion in California.

See the full report here.

The governor has said his opposition to the family planning clinic grants has nothing to do with politics, but is based in his desire to be a responsible fiscal steward of the state’s scarce resources.

He should live up to that standard.

Clearly, the numbers show the tremendous benefit that accrues by funding these grants. In addition to providing poor and working women broad and consistent access to family planning services, the Medicaid waiver allows the state to receive the 9-to-1 federal match in funding.

The fiscally responsible thing to do would be to invest a little of the state’s resources in family planning and reap the rewards of increased federal funding as well as cost savings to deal with avoidable pregnancies.

To do anything else seems to be a waste of time and money.

4 Comments

Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, family planning, federal matching funds, Gov. Chris Christie, Medicaid, New Jersey Policy Perspective, women's health issues