Ruiz turns around on Weinberg’s women’s health bill

TRENTON – State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) changed her mind about abstaining on the women’s health bill based on new information provided by the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck).

Ruiz said she thought the bill would create job loss at the state-funded women’s health centers, but Weinberg said not so.

The bill is to submit an application for expanding Medicaid availability for family planning services to individuals with incomes of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, rather than the income cap of up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level under the current state plan.

The biggest argument on the issue was from the Republican pro-life contingent, led by state Sens. Steve Oroho (R-Franklin) and Mike Doherty (R-Washington), who opposed the funding.

The money can’t be used on abortions, Weinberg told the committee, but state Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) said this funding would free up other money to be used on abortions.

State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Boonton) called it out as an after-the-fact budget adjustment.

“We’re not changing the budget,” chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) told Bucco. “We’re getting creative.”

The bill was approved by the committee, 7-5.

Ruiz also backed a small business bill passed by the committee, in both cases proving sources who called her out on the bills wrong.

Ruiz turns around on Weinberg’s women’s health bill