TRENTON, N.J. – The state’s annual Comprehensive Financial Report for fiscal year 2021 was released Wednesday, which shows New Jersey’s debt for pensions and health benefits is soaring despite rhetoric to the contrary from the Murphy administration.
“This goes to show that everything the Governor and his administration have said about reducing debt is wrong,” said Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-Warren), the GOP Leader. “New Jersey is simply spending and borrowing way too much. Ultimately, this debt falls onto taxpayers. This is a massive failure by Governor Murphy.”
It showed that long-term bonded debt has increased by $44.4 billion, a 21.7% increase, to $248.6 billion. Pension and health benefit debt increased by $4.4 billion and $36.1 billion, respectively. Altogether, debt increased by $84.9 billion.
The report also showed the state had a net position of negative $216 billion, only a $300 million difference from last year despite using unnecessarily borrowed funds during the pandemic to retire other debt.
“For years we have heard about deals with public unions that will save taxpayers money. It turns out that was a lie,” said Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Sussex), the GOP budget officer. “The fact is that health benefit debt increased, and are costing more money because of public unions being prioritized over taxpayers. We clearly need real reform, which has been ignored by Democrats for years.”
This past week a report came out that the Chapter 44 health benefit plans devised by former-Senate President Steve Sweeney and Murphy’s partners at the New Jersey Education Association are increasing costs to school districts instead of saving money. At the time of a new contract with the Communications Workers of America in 2019, Murphy touted significant health care savings, which also appear not to have come to fruition.
“I find it hard to believe that Governor Murphy wasn’t aware of this massive debt increase in bonds, pensions and health benefits while he said the opposite was happening. It just seems incredibly disingenuous,” concluded DiMaio.