Christie Budget Calls For Medicaid Expansion

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. February 26, 2013

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Governor Christie delivers budget speech to joint session of legislature (photo by Tim Larsen/Governor's Office)

Governor Chris Christie’s budget plan increases education aid, allows more poor New Jersey residents to enroll in Medicaid, and holds the line on taxes.

The $32.9 billion dollar spending plan boosts school aid by almost $100 million and calls for a pilot program to give scholarship to 200 needy students in underperforming districts so they can attend classes elsewhere.

Governor Christie says he’s decided the state will participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

 “While we already have one of the most expansive and generous Medicaid programs in the nation including the second highest eligibility for our children, we have an opportunity to ensure that an even greater number of New Jerseyans who are at or near the poverty line will have access to critical health services beginning in January of 2014.”

Christie also proposes a $40 million Sandy contingency fund for expenses not reimbursed by the federal government.

 “This is will allow us to get back on track with our small business agenda, get them back on their feet without delay. It will also allow us to continue to make progress restoring key roads and infrastructure regardless of federal timelines. It will help us rebuild the shore.”

Democratic leaders in New Jersey legislature are pleased the governor has decided to increase education aid and allow the state to participate in an expansion of Medicaid.

The Democrats are critical of Christie’s decision to defer Homestead Benefits until August to save more than 390-million-dollars in the current fiscal year.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver says many seniors on limited incomes rely on the rebates.

“We do have 40,000 residents of the state who have been displaced as a result of Hurricane Sandy and who are seeing gaps in financing to do their repairs. This money is critically important to homeowners.”

Democrats say they’re also disappointed Christie did not speak about the state’s high unemployment rate and say more about reducing property taxes.



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