SPARTA, N.J. – Assemblyman Hal Wirths wants Governor Phil Murphy to start sharing the information he has about New Jersey revenue woes so the legislature knows how to approach the state’s fiscal problems.
Murphy has continually warned of a massive revenue shortfall and yesterday said that major cuts to government are just weeks away.
“For over a month we have heard that New Jersey is facing a major revenue shortfall, but not once has the legislature been kept in the loop about what the shortfall actually is,” said Wirths (R-Sussex), the Assembly GOP budget officer. “The only information we get is during a press conference or TV appearance.”
In an appearance with President Donald J. Trump, Murphy said that New Jersey needs $20 billion to $30 billion. He said he has a plan in that same appearance, but none has been released about the budget.
“It is incumbent upon the governor to be as transparent as possible,” continued Wirths. “It isn’t right for his administration to be withholding fiscal information from the legislature and the public. If he doesn’t want to scare the public more, that is understandable. He should still be sharing with the legislature so we can make the right decisions when considering legislation to help our constituents.”
Murphy has been adamant about the need to borrow to replace revenue. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that borrowing cannot be used as revenue. In a voluntary disclosure on April 17, the treasurer said the bonding act would authorize the state to issue $5 billion. The leaked bill left the authorized borrowing blank, and Murphy said that he could seek up to $9 billion in bonding.
The bill and the disclosure specifically mentioned bonding would be used as revenue in the budget.
“It’s hard to pin down exactly how bad the fiscal situation is, and legislation is being passed with more spending in spite of inevitable vetos,” said Wirths. “Governor Murphy keeps saying we are in this together, but he must include the legislature sooner rather than later if things are that dire.”
Yesterday, Murphy vetoed multiple bills that had appropriations, stating that New Jersey doesn’t have the money to spend more. He also signed an executive order rescinding a previous edict requiring the treasurer to achieve a combined surplus of $1.8 billion.
The treasurer is required to submit a public revenue report on May 22.
States across the nation have been transparent about revenue problems resulting from the pandemic because their fiscal years were note extended. New Jersey is the only state in the nation to extend its fiscal year.