Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican budget officer, responded to Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo’s announcement today to propose legislation to “restore” funds to Planned Parenthood in the state budget.
“This is pure political theater,” said O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “It’s not a restoration because even the Democrats didn’t include a single penny to Planned Parenthood in their budget last year for the governor to line item veto.”
Last year, the legislature’s Democratic majority presented an alternative spending plan to Gov. Chris Christie’s budget, which didn’t include funding for Planned Parenthood. The Senate and General Assembly passed the appropriations act (S2016) on June 25, 2015.
While 42,255 fewer women have received treatment at a Planned Parenthood clinic, 48,427 more have received care at federally qualified health centers throughout the state, according to the state Department of Health at last year’s budget hearings.
“It is stunning how some Democrats can convince themselves to believe there is zero funding for women’s healthcare in New Jersey’s budget,” said O’Scanlon. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Gov. Christie’s proposed 2017 state budget contains at least seven line items for women’s healthcare, including $135 million for family health services including care for mothers and their children before and immediately after birth. Another $28 million is proposed to go to federally qualified health centers and $10 million for laboratory testing, including STDs.
“Fewer patients at one type of provider does not mean there are fewer women receiving care. Women are now getting as-good or better care through traditional providers such as OB-GYNs and their primary physicians.”
During a recent Assembly budget meeting in April, O’Scanlon challenged members on the budget committee to provide one example of a woman who was denied healthcare services, a challenge he has made the past six years. Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex) could not provide an example.
“When I asked her directly if she came across even one constituent who could not access the healthcare they needed, she answered, ‘No,’” continued O’Scanlon. “Democrats indicated they may have a list of women without access and would provide it, but it has been 24 days since the hearings and they still haven’t provided one example of what they claim is an epidemic ruining women’s health. If there are women not able to access care, and the Democrats are aware of such instances, shame on them for not bringing it to the attention of those of us – including the Health Department – whose goal is to provide care to every woman who needs it.”
O’Scanlon concluded, “Maybe Majority Leader Weinberg should listen to the words of Senate President Sweeney who has said repeatedly in some variation the past few weeks that he has to have a bill the governor would sign or ‘it is just political theater.’ Governor Christie has made it abundantly clear over the past six years this bill and spending is unnecessary, and will be vetoed.”