Lesniak: ‘don’t vote for the budget;’ senator leads head-to-head fight on healthcare

TRENTON – The senate session begins and Democrats want to pass a resolution urging Gov. Chris Christie not to join a multi-party lawsuit against federal healthcare refrom.

Fighting on party lines, state Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Woodbridge) and Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest) assume pro and con views on the resolution, which eventually passes, 21-16.

“Health insurance only becomes affordable if we’re playing the same game,” says Vitale. “Hundreds of thousands in New Jersey go to sleep every night deathly afraid.

“New Jersey is in line for hundreds of millions of dollars for Medicaid reimbursement,” he adds.

Cardinale fires back.

“It’s going to be an expense for employers,” says the GOP lawmaker from Bergen. “”It’s going to cost jobs – something we desperately need in New Jersey. Yes, we’ll get some money back, but how much are we going to pay?”

Following an argument by Sen. Robert Singer (R-Brick) in support of Cardinale’s position, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) jumps in, turning to the GOP. 

“Don’t vote for the budget then,” he says, “because we have a constitutional responsibility to balance the budget and Gov. Chris Christie is relying on President Barack Obama’s healthcare” reforms in part to cover the state cuts he proposes for some programs.

“The governor announced he is depending on it for senior citizens’ prescriptions,” Lesniak says later. “Don’t vote for the budget or amend out the portion for senior citizen prescriptions. You can’t have it both ways.” 

Lesniak: ‘don’t vote for the budget;’ senator leads head-to-head fight on healthcare