Yesterday, Chris Christie was the keynote speaker at the Governor’s Conference For Women in Trenton. Perhaps he should do more listening and less talking. Because while folks might say that Christie is a fighter, he’s made it painfully clear he’s not fighting for New Jersey’s women. In fact, he’s the one holding them back when it comes to both their health and fiscal well-being.
There’s nothing moderate about the extreme, right-wing, anti-woman agenda our state has borne witness to these past few years. Christie’s knuckle-dragging decisions and out-of-step ideology are hurting women and their families.It’s been this way right from the jump. In 2010, Christie eliminated $7.4 million in his very first budget for basic reproductive healthcare services. This money included life-saving cancer screenings, pap tests and breast health services. In 2009, these funds helped over 136,000 patients. Last year, New Jersey’s family planning providers saw at least 33,000 fewer people – a 24% drop. On Christie’s watch, six such centers have closed due to state cuts. Some patients immediately lost services and didn’t have access to other providers. Others experienced longer wait times or were forced to pay more out-of-pocket. The number of clinical breast exams alone performed at these providers fell from 70,506 in 2009 to 48,441 in 2012 – a 31% plunge.Christie has since vetoed attempts to restore women’s health funding…four times. He claimed the state was broke. But just don’t look too close into the palm of Christie’s hand – as he protects a tax break for multi-millionaires, doles out over $2 billion in corporate subsidies and proposed $540 million in business tax cuts. It’s clear where his priorities lie, and it’s not with the women and families of New Jersey.Rather than reflect Jersey values, Christie is firmly in line with the most severe fringe on women’s rights. He’s the state’s first governor to oppose abortion rights since Roe v. Wade, and was the first to ever speak at Trenton’s annual pro-life rally. It’s no surprise Christie defunded Planned Parenthood and hopscotched the country supporting extremist Republican candidates who would outlaw abortion in the cases of rape and incest. In fact, he endorsed a North Dakota Senate candidate who voted to make it a felony to perform an abortion.It isn’t only health where Christie fails to have women’s best interests at heart. He’s also trying to buttress the glass ceiling with cement. Christie vetoed legislation making it illegal for companies to pay women less for the same work as their male counterparts. He even supported allowing this discrimination at companies hired by the state with New Jerseyans’ hard-earned tax dollars. Apparently, Christie simply doesn’t believe in equal pay for equal work.Moreover, when Christie vetoed increasing the minimum wage, he prevented hundreds of thousands of women working low-wage jobs from getting a modest raise. And when Christie cut the Earned Income Tax Credit – a program aimed at low-income workers – women disproportionately felt the pinch. It’s no surprise there are more women who have fallen into poverty since Christie took office.While his policies have been harsh, that’s not the sole way Christie has hammered women – as he’s said some pretty rude things, as well. Let’s not forget when he beseeched reporters to “take the bat out on” State Senator Loretta Weinberg. Or when Christie called Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle “a jerk” for condemning his inappropriate use of the state police helicopter to watch his son’s baseball game and meet with Iowa fundraisers. Christie called Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver a liar despite evidence backing up her side of the story about trying to set up a meeting on property taxes.Sadly, Christie’s hasn’t only lashed out at elected officials. At one of his taxpayer-funded town hall meetings – when a teacher pointed out that Christie demonizes teachers and only talks about how horrible schools are, while New Jersey is actually home to some of America’s best schools – Christie lambasted that she only wanted to “put on a show and giggle every time I talk.” He then condescendingly said “I have no interest in answering your question.” Then, during a live-call in show, when asked if its fair to defund public education while sending his own kids to private schools, Christie angrily snapped, ”Hey Gail, you know what? It’s none of your business.” And when a protester interrupted his speech at a Mitt Romney rally, Christie contemptuously sneered, “Something may go down tonight, but its not going to be jobs, sweetheart.”One would think Christie would stop his bull in a china shop routine when it came to caring for the women of New Jersey. But alas, he’s consistently unleashed a double-barreled assault upon them. Through word, deed, partisanship and policy proposals, Christie’s treated the women of New Jersey with both mocking and malice.What Christie says to women is pretty bad. What he’s doing to women is even worse, as he puts both their physical and economic health squarely in the crosshairs.