TRENTON – While a vote on the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) replenishment was much delayed during Thursday’s Assembly Budget hearing, the committee did release the Democratic 2017 budget legislation (A4000). The committee hearing comes just one week before the July 1 deadline to finalize the FY2017 state budget.
Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto hailed the Democratic plan as “key step toward rebuilding New Jersey’s middle-class, combating poverty, ensuring access to quality health care and protecting the state’s most vulnerable residents,” according to a statement from the NJ Assembly Democrats. The Democratic budget totals $34.8 billion. It includes $25 million in preschool expansion aid, $20 million for lead testing in schools/homes as well as funding for mental health services, sexual assault prevention, substance abuse treatment, cancer research, and funds for a number of other areas.
“This budget is yet another step in the Assembly Democratic battle against poverty and its adverse and costly impact on our state,” Prieto said in a statement. “Gov. Christie needs to do the right thing and sign this as-is. When it comes to helping those including domestic violence victims, abused children and our most vulnerable, we must stand strong and do what’s right.”
Before one of two long recesses held while legislators hammered out the final language of the TTF bills and how they will amend already-existing statutory law, two bills directly related to Planned Parenthood—an organization that Governor Chris Christie has vowed he will not fund—were released. One of the bills, A3492, would provide $7.43 million in supplemental appropriation for the Department of Health to spend on family planning services. The bill received four ‘no’ votes and nine ‘yes’ votes and passed the budget committee. The other bill, A1963, would expand Medicaid for women’s health care. That bill also advanced.
Assembly budget committee members also released the following bills: A4003 which makes $9.5 million in supplemental appropriations to the DOH to improve healthcare delivery and A415 which authorized continued needle exchange programs in NJ to stem the spread of diseases including HIV/AIDS.
Thought the assembly budget bill was approved by the assembly budget panel, it still needs to be considered by the Senate and get Governor Christie’s signature before approval.The New Jersey constitution requires a balanced budget before the end of the fiscal year.