Battle between Murphy, Sweeney over frozen NJ money re-emerges

David Madden
January 03, 2020 - 12:01 pm
Steve Sweeney; Phil Murphy

Mitsu Yasukawa/Northjersey.com; Flickr

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TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Gov. Phil Murphy approved a measure that gives an extra $9.5 million to Planned Parenthood in New Jersey — after the Trump Administration played politics, as some characterize it, with federal funds for family planning. Now the legislature’s top Democrat suggests Murphy is playing politics with millions of dollars, most of which is earmarked to South Jersey, and it’s time to release those funds.

At issue is Executive Order 73, implemented last July after the governor failed to get his "millionaires tax." It froze $235 million in programs until the funds were found to pay for them. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) believes revenue numbers, paired with the Planned Parenthood action, shows the money's there now.

"If we’re going to add more spending, then obviously we’re OK financially," Sweeney told KYW Newsradio, "and what we do know is our numbers have come in over the last two quarters well above what was projected, and this funding needs to be released."

Sweeney not only backed the extra money for family planning services, he co-sponsored the bill.

About half of the frozen funds have been released, but money still on hold is threatening the future of several programs — among them, cancer work at Cooper Hospital. Sweeney says it’s not fair that Cooper is denied money, while cancer programs to the north got their money.

"People that have cancer deserve to be treated the same as the central and northern part of the state," he added. "Just because you're from the southern part of the state doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be given the same opportunities to get healthy again."

Related: NJ replaces Planned Parenthood funding lost in battle with the White House