The New Jersey state Senate wasn’t able to override a veto, by Gov. Chris Christie, of $7.5 million for family planning programs, today. They needed a two-thirds majority to override the veto and restore the funding but fell short with a 23-17 vote, down party lines.
Still, the Democrats leading the charge say they’re not giving up. From NJ.com,
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union), said they found a new funding source of $5 million in unspent money that could be devoted to family planning funds. The funds had been set aside in the 2010 budget to pay counties for housing certain prisoners, Weinberg said.
As Robin Marty wrote earlier today, on Rewire, of the potential for an override this time, after the Senate had voted in June to overturn Christie’s veto,
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“…the worry is that although the bill passed originally with a veto-proof majority, 6 of the 7 Republicans who supported it said they would not override a veto. Why? Because even though it explicitly states no money will be used on abortion, Planned Parenthoods in the state would be a receipient of funding should the bill pass, and Republicans would rather see women suffer than have the group get any state dollars.”
This time, however, these seven Republicans did not vote in favor of overturning the veto. Sen. Weinberg was distressed – not only about the failed override, but about the lack of understanding for how critical women’s health funding is universally,
“I would address particularly the seven people across the aisle who voted on our side. This is not an issue of party loyalty. This is not an issue of being loyal to the governor,” she said while looking at the Republicans across the aisle. “This is an issue about women’s health, about poor women, about under-insured women, about women’s access.”
Weinberg is still struggling to figure out, however, just why the funds were cut in the first place. According to the article, the original funds were to come from money for a prescription drug account for state employees that was not going to be used in the coming year, according to the Office of Legislative Services. When Weinberg inquired after the funds,
…Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said the Office was wrong, and there would be no surplus funds in that account.
Weinberg demanded to know how that decision was made and requested the information under the Open Public Records Act. But the records administrator rejected the request, saying the figures used were “unaudited” and not public because they are “advisory and deliberative.”
“They made a policy decision on unaudited figures?” Weinberg said. “We are prepared to make a big fight over this.”
With an anti-choice governor and a gaping hole in the financial reasoning, critical funding for New Jersey’s families is being thrown into a political garbage heap and tens of thousands of women will go without the means to plan for the families they want and help care for the families they have.