Trenton, N.J. (CNA) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stripped $7.5 million in Planned Parenthood and other funding from the state budget on June 30 and transferred the money instead to federal health centers.
The governor narrowly avoided a midnight deadline that would have shut down the state government. He did so by individually cutting $900 million from the Democrat-proposed budget and then signing it, as opposed to rejecting it outright.
The move allowed Christie to enact the state’s $29.7 billion budget seven hours before the new fiscal year began.
“It is my solemn pact with the residents and taxpayers of New Jersey to never allow a return to the kind of reckless, autopilot spending that devastated our state’s economic health in years past and which was embodied in the budget I repaired,” Christie said.
“Let me be clear: New Jersey is only going to spend the money we have.”
Part of the budget revisions included a veto of $7.5 million from clinics that provide family-planning services — including Planned Parenthood — and adding an equal amount instead for Federal Qualified Health Centers.
Planned Parenthood has been the subject of controversy in the state over improper billing practices and failure to comply with health-and-safety regulations.
Last August, the U.S. Inspector General’s audits from 2001-2005 cited the organization for improperly billing Medicaid $597,000 for family-planning services which the state had to repay.
In March of this year, the Planned Parenthood facility in Mercer County was inspected by the New Jersey Department of Health, which issued a 39-page deficiency report for non-compliance with health-and-safety regulations.
And a worker at the Perth Amboy Planned Parenthood was caught on tape in February offering assistance to undercover activists posing as sex traffickers and claiming to employ girls as young as 13 years old.
State Democrats, including the Senate’s president, Stephen Sweeney, criticized the budget on July 1 as “cruel and mean-spirited.”
Although Democratic leaders are planning to challenge some of the reductions, they will need a two-thirds majority to override the individual line-item vetoes. This will require a vote that will need the unlikely support of state Republicans.
“We are not going to revert back to business as usual and undo all the progress that has been made,” Christie said on June 30. “The actions I have taken today reinforce a commitment to protecting taxpayer dollars.”