Tag Archive: Planned Parenthood

NJ’s New “Go Along To Get Along” Budget

In the midst of an election cycle, this year’s budget process has been the Governor and Legislature making nice with each other. Both sides are averse to cutting programs popular with the general public, introducing new controversial issues, and engaging in protracted confrontations. We can remember past years when debate, anger and threats ruled. This year the budget was negotiated behind closed doors with the public and the press uninformed about the process. The budget bill (A4200) which is about to be passed in a few days is only now available in an abbreviated form on the Legislature’s main website page.

Our budget system is somewhat perverse. The Governor starts out with what he wants in the budget and presents it to the Legislature. The Legislature then adds items it wants, and deletes items it does not want. Finally, the Governor can line-item veto anything he dislikes but he can not add back in expenses. Of course there are exceptions and subterfuges, but that is how it is supposed to work.

The governor has the upper hand and routinely gets about 90% or more of what he or she wants, but the Legislature can negotiate to appropriate or not appropriate funds for specific items. Nonetheless, Mark Magyar points out today, “As expected, the final budget bill was little changed from the spending plan Christie laid out four months ago.” (Appropriations net changes of $56 million in a $32.9 billion budget.)

The Legislature removed from the Governor’s budget $2 million for the Opportunity Scholarship Act program (school vouchers).

Some of the Legislature’s additions to the budget include  $35 million for higher education reorganization; $7.4 million for school districts, rolling back an administration plan to make districts pay more for capital borrowing; and $13.2 million for community providers who care for the mentally disabled.

An item not in the budget is additional funding for pre-school programs. Likewise there are no monies for Planned Parenthood, which will be addressed in separate legislation. There is no funding for Christie’s tax cut plan that he promoted so hard. Nor is there any consideration for a millionaire’s tax surcharge. (Also the $24 million needed for the Special Elections is not included.)

So in the end harmony is preserved. There is nothing wrong per se with accommodation, but in a period of economic upheaval, environmental concerns, high unemployment, pen/ben indebtedness, unresolved social issues, high property taxes, fraying infrastructure, growing poverty, and Sandy recovery efforts, one might yearn for a more robust public discussion of how we set our priorities and spend our money.

Trees Falling in the Forest: Our State Budget

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” A tree falling becomes damaged and likely dies. Whether it makes a sound if no one is around has led philosophers to debate. However one can see the impact later walking through the forest even if no one was around at the time.

Such is the case with Governor Christie’s State Budget which is currently undergoing hearings in the legislature. Trees are falling and almost no one is around to hear it, but there will be an impact. Yesterday’s Assembly Budget session received almost no press attention.

Governor Christie has done his best to hide the falling trees by promoting his increased funding for Pen/Ben, his acceptance of Medicaid expansion, and his added funding in a very few selected areas. His forecast for revenue is too optimistic. Nonetheless, a final budget with over $32 billion will soon be approved.

It is all about priorities. In the midst of low press coverage there is still time for individuals to let our governor and legislators know what we want. Most departments are being cut, but unsurprisingly not Christie’s Executive Department. Below are just a few budget items for which to advocate.

  •  The Earned Income Tax Credit for lower income earners, being held hostage to a property tax relief plan, should be returned to 25%.

  •  Insufficient funding for nursing homes.

  •  Almost half of New Jersey school districts will see a net loss in the amount they receive from the state next year.

  •  Limited outreach funds to enroll patients in the new health exchange.

  •  Low amount in budget for Emergency Sandy Fund.

  •  Insufficient pay-as-you-go transportation funding.

  •  Planned Parenthood should be funded.

  •  For there to be property tax relief there should a millionaire tax surcharge.

    There are many areas where there is too much or too little funding. Like a forest some trees will receive nourishment to grow and some will fall. Most people will not hear a sound but will note the impact later. Now is the time for citizens to advocate their causes. The Budget Summary which lists major increases and decreases in appropriations is here. For additional ideas go to NJ Spotlight or NJ Policy Perspective.

  • Mark Zuckerberg’s guests wade through a line of protesters to get to Chris Christie fundraiser

    One, Two, Three, Four

    This is not the Jersey Shore

    Five, Six, Seven, Eight

    Zuck send Chris back to his own State

    Condoleezza Rice was among the swells who showed up tonight at Mark Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto house to glad hand the media showboat from New Jersey, Chris Christie. Another beneficiary of the Bush White House.

    Inside chez Zuckerberg, on a tree-lined, sleepy residential street in the cushy heart of Silicon Valley, visitors plunked down the max of $3,800 to pump the already-pumped governor towards a second term here on the right coast. But before they got to the door, they had to make their way through at least 50 local protesters not nearly as happy to see Christie in the neighborhood. Valet parking at the house meant that everybody but Christie (who ducked in early, to avoid unfriendly faces) had to get out of their cars at the street level and walk through the line of protesters.

    When I say Christie, you say “Go home”

    When I say Mark, you say “Wake Up”

    When I say Facebook, you say “Fail”

    The street was packed with satellite and press trucks, caterers, cops and security (for very respectful protesters).

    Hey, Facebook, Shame on You

    Christie hurts women, now you do, too.

    Sam Briggs of Credo Action, organized the street-level welcome along with area Democracy for America (DFA) leaders and other groups. He reports a very lively outdoor presence throughout the event inside, with particularly lively chanting pitched toward both the 5pm and 6pm local newscasts. They held signs – addressed to zuck + Chris – calling attention to Christie’s efforts to strip state funding from Planned Parenthood and health care for women. Briggs:

    Booker Wows the DNC LGBT Caucus

    Yes, Cory Booker was everywhere at once in Charlotte. Big impact, I’d say. Promoted by Rosi

    Cory Booker was one of the most active people in Charlotte. He handed out Made in Newark goodie bags to all the NJ Delegates and participants. He Addressed the NJ Delegation at one of the breakfast meetings as well as addressing the Convention as Co-Chair of the Platform Committee.

    He seemed to be everywhere as I caught up with him on Wednesday at a HRC-Victory Fund luncheon where Michelle Obama was the headline speaker.

    On Thursday I had the pleasure and honor to introduce him to a SRO crowd of over 600 at the Thursday session LGBT Caucus following a speech by Dr Jill Biden. He brought Senator Loretta Weinberg with him and acknowledged her as a champion of LGBT rights and marriage equality! Watch.

    Planned Parenthood Leader in Princeton

    promoted by Rosi

    “Partisan politics rather than public health interest is driving reproductive policy in America,” Richards said. “We are now fighting about whether women should have basic access to birth control.”

    Cecile Richards – the head of Planned Parenthood Federation of America – did not mince words as she spoke to students and Planned Parenthood supporters, staff, and board members at Princeton University yesterday.  She outlined a variety of egregious pieces of legislation which are currently wending their way through state legislatures, none of which are medically necessary, most of which are simply designed to humiliate women and deter them from accessing the full range of reproductive health care options, including contraception, STI testing and treatment, and abortion care.

    Although some of the news was grim, Richards – who called herself “an optimist” – was also hopeful, discussing the power of technology to connect people and create social change.  It was also hard not to notice the energy of the students in the room, who asked Richards a broad array of questions, from the role of sex positivity in advocating for women’s health to advice on how to talk about reproductive health to peers.  

    Richards also encouraged the women’s health advocates in the lecture hall to stay strong and active in the face of repeated attacks.  As our Planned Parenthood health centers in New Jersey face a third year without state family planning dollars, this encouragement was appreciated.  Because, at the end of the day, after the political noise had died down, our work is all about serving patients and their basic health care needs.

    Talk to The Women You Know About Scott Garrett

    promoted by Rosi

    Cross posted at Retire Garrett.

    Of the 666,551 residents in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, 51.4% of them (342,572) are women.   73 – 75% of those women are of voting age.  I can’t tell you how many of the approximately 253,500 women are registered  to vote, or how many vote on a regular basis.  What I can tell you is that in the last presidential election year, Scott Garrett’s vote count was 165,271.  That was good enough for Garrett to garner 56.3% of the 293,733 votes cast and easily win re-election.  Redistricting has changed these numbers, but only slightly.

    It’s up to all of us to educate the women in our lives that a vote for Scott Garrett is a vote against the rights of women.  Reproductive rights are a hot top these days in Washington.  Scott Garrett opposes women having control over how, when and if they will reproduce.  He also opposed attempts to prevent women from being able to take action legal action with their employer for being underpaid when compared to men doing the same work.

    Congressman Leonard Lance- Town Meeting- February 25, 2012

    promoted by Rosi

    There are those, myself included, who have noticed a great difference between former State Sen. Leonard Lance and current Congressman Leonard Lance.

    Star-Ledger columnist Tom Moran, in a May 2011 column, observed that Lance has undergone a “curious transformation” upon his election to Congress. Moran notes, for example, that Lance was a “pro-choice Republican going way back, [however] he voted recently to cut off all funding for Planned Parenthood, even those clinics that provide health care with no abortion services.”

    Considering that this is an election year, and Lance faces a primary challenge from the conservative tea party end of his party, don’t expect him to return to the moderate centrist Lance anytime soon.

    I attended the Congressman’s Town Meeting today, and Lance let pass any and every opportunity to return to his more moderate centrist former self.

    Who Would Have Thought That Cancer Screenings Could Become Political?

    Michele is Planned Parenthood’s Executive Director in New Jersey.

    – promoted by Rosi

    Oh, right.  Women in New Jersey took a big hit in 2010, when Gov. Christie decided to eliminate a $7.4 million budget line that helped fund cancer screenings – including Pap tests and clinical breast exams.  This funding supported services for over 136,000 patients; for many without insurance or other access to care, Planned Parenthood had been their primary source of health care.  Despite overwhelming pressure to reinstate funding, the Governor has repeatedly refused to do so.
    Yesterday the deeply disappointing news broke about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation's recent decision to cease funding for breast health and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers.  It’s sad – and so telling – that the Komen Foundation, an organization that shares in Planned Parenthood’s mission of protecting women’s health, would succumb to right-wing political pressure by refusing to help fund programs that provide life-saving cancer screenings to nearly 750,000 women nationwide.  

    Another Way the GOP is Derailing the Economy

    If Planned Parenthood didn’t exist, what would be the GOP’s biggest bogeyman? Arguably it would be Amtrak.

    Rail transport is an often under-appreciated aspect of the engine that drives the economy. It is more fuel-efficient than automobiles, and the portion of the Northeast Corridor that runs through New Jersey is critical to the state’s and nation’s economy.

    Yet, two days after Irene, a portion of the Amtrak system in New Jersey remains closed. This also impacts New Jersey Transit which uses the same tracks.

    The faux-fiscal conservative GOP has consistently worked to reduce and eliminate Amtrak subsidies, probably because the typical passenger is not one of their millionaire benefactors. Yet, the impact on the economy due to workers unable to get to their jobs is never a factor in the GOP’s calculation.

    Europe and China are making huge investments in infrastructure to benefit their economies. Floods, snowstorms, and hurricanes are a fact of life in the northeast. Amtrak needs funds not only for their day-to-day operations, but to invest in preventative and restorative infrastructure so that events like those this past weekend don’t  make New Jersey less competitive in the world market.

    The Roots of Intransigence

    Trying to reason with a Tea Partiers is like trying to get a Congressional Republican to compromise. It’s easier to teach pigs to fly.

    MoveOn.org sponsored rallies today all across the country to bring attention to the irrevocable harm that the Republican Tea Party is imposing on mostly complacent Americans. One such event was held over the lunch hour today at the Mount Laurel office of ex-NFL offensive linesman and Tea Party darling, Congressman Jon Runyan.

    I arrived at Runyan’s office at around 11:30, and there were about five people already gathered in the parking lot. One was a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the rest were members of the West Jersey Tea Party. (I’ve heard of North Jersey, South Jersey, and Central Jersey, but where the heck is West Jersey? But I digress.)