When it comes to rallying support for minimum wage, marriage equality and women’s health care, Gov. Chris Christie is very far apart from Democrats on those key issues, according to state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester).
Sweeney emphasized the divide in a recent interview during the June 1 episode of ‘On The Record with Michael Aron’ on NJTV.
"People want the minimum wage, they want marriage equality, they want women’s health care," Sweeney said. "There’s issues that actually that really do matter, social issues that matter to the people of this state. So I know Barbara would support those issues, I know the governor hasn’t. You’ve seen the actions he’s taken on them." Sweeney last week endorsed Barbara Buono, a Democratic state senator from Metuchen, in November’s gubernatorial contest with Christie.
For this fact check we’re looking only at the claim that Christie doesn’t support these issues -- concerns that PolitiFact New Jersey has addressed previously. What we have determined is that while Christie sees these issues differently than Democrats, it’s not quite true that he doesn’t support them at all.
Let’s look back at claims on each topic, starting with minimum wage.
In January Christie vetoed a Democratic proposal raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour, with future increases tied to inflation. So he didn’t support the Democrat proposal -- but he offered an alternative that Democrats reject: phase in a $1 increase over three years and eliminate automatic hikes.
Next, marriage equality.
Christie, a Catholic, has said repeatedly that same-sex marriage goes against his beliefs, but has said he supports civil unions and ensuring that same-sex couples have the same legal protections as married couples. Back in February, Christie conditionally vetoed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and suggested a referendum on gay marriage for the Nov. 5 general election.
That suggestion drew fire after several lawmakers, including Sweeney, said same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue and doesn’t belong on a ballot.
Finally, let’s look at where Christie stands on women’s health care.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) in May 2011 claimed that six of New Jersey’s 58 family planning centers closed after Christie stripped $7.5 million in funding for the centers from his first budget for fiscal year 2011.
Representatives of those clinics previously told us that state funding cuts forced the closures.
Christie has since rejected at least three efforts by the Legislature to restore the family planning funding that he cut, noting on several occasions that New Jersey residents have access to "comprehensive reproductive health care services" at other sites and the state can’t afford to "provide duplicative funding for family planning centers." The centers that closed were in rural parts of South Jersey.
To recap, the governor proposed an alternative to the Democrats’ proposal on minimum wage that would mean a smaller hike for low-income earners; opposes same-sex marriage personally but suggested it be a matter for public referendum; and cut funding for women’s health care, saying family planning services were available elsewhere.
"That’s 100 percent accurate in terms of the distortions and outright misrepresentations of the Governor’s positions that have been repeated over and over by the Buono campaign and its allies," Christie for Governor campaign spokesman Kevin Roberts said in an e-mail. "Unfortunately it’s not a surprising tactic from an increasingly desperate campaign that continues to fall further and further behind."
Senate Democrats spokesman Chris Donnelly could not be reached for comment.
Sweeney said, "People want the minimum wage, they want marriage equality, they want women’s health care," Sweeney said during the June 1 episode of ‘On The Record with Michael Aron.’ "There’s issues that actually that really do matter, social issues that matter to the people of this state. So I know Barbara would support those issues, I know the governor hasn’t. You’ve seen the actions he’s taken on them."
We’ve determined that Christie appears to support a minimum-wage hike, albeit one that is quite a bit smaller than the one supported by Democrats; opposes gay marriage, but supports civil unions and letting voters decide the matter via referendum; and cut funding for that women’s health care that closed six family planning centers in the state.
We rate Sweeney’s claim Mostly True.
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