TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger criticized Governor Phil Murphy’s latest budget proposal as further sinking the state economy in the wake of unrelenting lockdown measures, colossal borrowing plans, and a lack of real savings.
“New Jersey’s economy was decimated long before the coronavirus pandemic became the scapegoat,” said Scharfenberger (R-Monmouth). “For the last two-and-a-half years, we’ve seen an explosion of spending and tax increases weakening an already overburdened state. When Governor Murphy took office, the budget was under thirty-five billion dollars, now it has ballooned to over forty-billion dollars. Covid can’t solely be blamed for that.”
In the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, New Jersey businesses were shutdown to flatten the curve and protect public health. Scharfenberger says businesses were told that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but the light offered has turned into a train of continued restrictions with ever-increasing benchmarks pushing economic recovery further down the line – negatively impacting businesses and state finances.
“The governor’s continuously excessive, hardline lockdown policies have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in sorely needed revenues on top of the incalculable fiscal damages to our small businesses,” Scharfenberger continued. “Coupled with enormous job losses in just about every sector, New Jersey taxpayers are facing a torturous economic future cloaked in uncertainty. Clearly, much of the budget stress facing us is largely self-inflicted.”
Murphy has proposed borrowing $4 billion to prop up the budget, more than half of which will be used as surplus even though the money has to be paid back eventually. He has not indicated how the money will be appropriated in his $40.1 billion record-setting spending proposal.
“Making matters worse, we still don’t have a clear path forward and explanation for where and how these borrowed funds will be spent before Trenton puts another burden on New Jerseyans in the form of a property tax surcharge,” Scharfenberger stated. “CARES Act funds are still in limbo, which could’ve been used to soften the economic blow, but instead that money is being hoarded without so much as a clue as to why.”