Loretta Weinberg has had it with the Christie administration’s delaying tactics.
Weinberg – prime Senate sponsor of legislation to restore $7.5 million in state funding to women’s health and family planning programs – has filed 3 Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests with State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristof, looking for information behind the Christie administration’s objections to budget-neutral funding source identified in her bill (S-2139). Weinberg:
If the Treasurer can’t bring himself to work with us to identify funding solutions for critical women’s health programs, than we’ll use the tools at our disposal to access public information and hopefully dispel the myth that our funding source doesn’t work.
State funding was cut from the budget by the governor. An alternative revenue-neutral source suggested by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS), taps surplus funds in the State Employee Prescription Drug Program. The funding would provide greater access by women and men to basic health services including cancer and high blood pressure screenings, HIV testing, pre- and post-natal care, treatment for sexually-transmitted disease, and contraception. Abortions are off that list; the funding does not cover their payment.
Weinberg’s right to get to the bottom of the Christie administration’s truculence. If Sidamon-Eristoff has reason to dispute the alternative funding source, he should be able to provide those reasons beyond the vague and unspecific short letter he provided to Weinberg (the Treasurer skipped a request to answer questions publicly before the Senate Health Committee, which Weinberg chairs).
What Weinberg is looking for, if the funding source is faulty as they say it is, is cooperation from the administration to work with her and Asw Linda Stender – the go-to in the Assembly – to replace that funding with a better solution. The OPRA requests, she says, are the administration’s opportunity to either produce documentation for their objections or admit Christie’s real opposition is driven by “his out of touch, far-right political ideology.”
Ball’s in their court.