TRENTON – The New Jersey Senate has scheduled a vote to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of legislation that would fund women’s health clinics.
According to Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), the vote will take place on Sept. 20. If the vote is successful, the Assembly will hold a vote on Sept. 30, according to Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex.)
The bill, which would redirect an anticipated $7.5 million surplus in the State Employees’ Prescription Drug Program to fund the family planning clinics, originally passed the state Senate 30-10 in June. The Assembly voted 42-22 in favor, with five members abstaining or refusing to vote.
Supporters of the bill need 27 votes in the Senate and 54 in the Assembly to overturn Christie’s veto. Six Senate Republicans originally supported the bill, but have indicated that they will not support the veto override effort.
“Initially, we supported S-2139, which rededicates $7.5 million from the State Employees’ Prescription Drug Program toward further women’s health initiatives. However, upon further review by the State Treasurer, it is now clear that this transfer would place the state prescription fund into a $5.6 million deficit and risk access to needed medicines for women and children. Therefore, if Senate President Sweeney calls for a veto override of S-2139, we will vote to support maintaining a balanced budget and ensure there is continued access to prescription medicines for families,” Senators Diane Allen, Kip Bateman, Andrew Ciesla, Chris Connors, Sean Kean and Robert Singer said in a statement.
Sweeney and Oliver’s announcement today was timed to coincide with Women’s Equality Day, the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. They said that that without state funding, many women’s health centers would be forced to close, cutting equal access to basic health care and cancer screenings to roughly 140,000 New Jersey women.
“We should be celebrating the day women were finally given equal access to the power of the ballot, not still debating whether women in New Jersey should have equal access to health care,” said Sweeney. “In June, a veto-proof majority of Senators spoke loud and clear that women’s health matters. Now, a few of those voices are silent for fear of going against the Governor. But we will not stop fighting for something that is right. The Senate will take up an override vote, and I look forward to joining with my colleagues in making the case that women’s health matters for all New Jerseyans, and that this veto should be overridden.”
“On this important milestone, there is cause for celebration when you view the great strides women have historically made towards equality,” said Oliver. “However, in Chris Christie’s New Jersey, women and their health care needs have been relegated to 19th century standards of equality. I continue to maintain hope that our colleagues across the aisle will recognize the degree of damage done by the Governor’s veto and join us in standing up for women’s health.”
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