New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is under fire for once again refusing to release his plan for what to do with the $11 billion in COVID-19 recovery funds he was given by former President Donald J. Trump. In a letter to Trump in 2020 that looked more like a ransom letter than a letter for support, Murphy told then President Trump that if he did not receive $11 billion, New Jersey would collapse.
That never happened. Instead, New Jersey ended 2020 with a huge budget surplus, but Murphy still got his $11 billion in Trump funds from the President.
Now, New Jersey Republicans are calling for action and for Murphy’s treasurer to resign because of fuzzy and misleading figures released by the state.
The Republican members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee responded to a revenue update from the Murphy administration showing a massive $5 billion increase in State revenues during FY 2021 and FY 2022, well beyond what legislators were told to expect. Combined with nearly $6.5 billion in federal relief funds sent to New Jersey, the Murphy administration now has $11.5 billion in cash and absolutely no plan to use it to help New Jersey.
“The updated revenue figures demonstrate yet again that the information provided by the Murphy administration to the Legislature in recent weeks was grossly inaccurate,” said Senate Republican Budget Officer Steven Oroho (R-24). “When she last testified before our committee in May, Treasurer Muoio suggested revenues might be adjusted upwards by a few hundred million dollars. We deserve the opportunity to ask the Treasurer why the Murphy Administration’s guidance was off by nearly $5 billion. Further, I believe we should form a special committee with subpoena power to investigate how the Murphy administration has misled lawmakers, the court, and taxpayers on our finances and the billions of dollars Governor Murphy borrowed unnecessarily last year.”
Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) noted a pattern of the Murphy administration withholding information from the Budget Committee:
“A few weeks ago, the Treasurer dropped a bombshell on Budget Committee members by revealing under questioning that the Murphy administration had already received nearly $6.5 billion in federal relief funds but had failed to tell anyone,” said O’Scanlon. “Now we’re learning she again has failed to notify legislators in a timely fashion of a multi-billion dollar increase in tax collections. We have a disturbing pattern of the Murphy administration withholding and misdirecting lawmakers on the true state of New Jersey’s finances. It’s extremely concerning that the Murphy administration now has $11.5 billion of state and federal funds with absolutely no plan for providing property tax relief or helping New Jersey’s small businesses recover from the pandemic or resolve the looming eviction tsunami.”
Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) expressed serious concern that Treasurer Muoio’s planned appearance before the Assembly Budget Committee was canceled today, making it unclear if she would appear before the Senate tomorrow as planned.
“We are disturbed that Treasurer Muoio may not appear before our budget committees today and tomorrow as planned to provide a critically important revenue update to legislators,” said Thompson. “The Legislature has a constitutional obligation to pass the next State Budget by the end of June and we deserve the opportunity to question the Treasurer to get a full understanding of our current financial picture and projections for the future. This is completely contrary to the open, transparent, and public budget process our democracy requires.”
Senator Michael Testa (R-1) said the cancelation of the Treasurer’s revenue updates to legislators is a clear sign the Murphy administration is afraid of tough questions about how it is managing New Jersey’s money.
“Treasurer Muoio couldn’t articulate the Murphy administration’s plan for putting billions of federal relief funds to effective use, and canceled hearings are a clear sign they have no plan for managing the extra billions Governor Murphy has collected from New Jersey taxpayers in recent weeks,” said Testa. “The Murphy administration shouldn’t hide Treasurer Muoio from the Legislature. When she appears before us next, she better have a plan and be capable of answering all our questions, including how the Murphy administration plans to spend the $11.5 billion of new cash to help people. If not, Treasurer Muoio should be the next member of Governor Murphy’s cabinet to resign.”
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