NEW JERSEY – Republican members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee slammed Governor Murphy’s mismanagement of federal COVID block grant funding after reports surfaced that President Biden may support bipartisan efforts to rescind idle federal stimulus funds.
“Governor Murphy and Trenton Democrats have abused billions of taxpayer dollars and the federal government wants it back.” said Senate Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon (R-13). “For two years, the Murphy administration has let billions of dollars wither away in idle accounts while struggling homeowners and businesses were decimated by inflation. We should be putting this money to good use to help businesses and taxpayers, but Democrats have consistently rejected sensible Republican proposals to put money into the hands of those who need it most. Governor Murphy’s abdication of allocating funds is a slap in the face to New Jersey taxpayers.”
President Biden indicated that he is open to a proposal that would claw back up to $70 billion dollars of federal stimulus as part of negotiations with House Republicans to raise the debt ceiling, Senators said.
“Fiscal concerns stemming from the pandemic could have been alleviated with the remaining five billion dollars that Governor Murphy has refused to disburse,” said Senate Minority Leader Steven Oroho (R-24). “Governor Murphy’s executive orders severely constrained small businesses forcing many of them to close, leading families to fall behind during the pandemic. Although there were billions of dollars waiting to be utilized for the last two years to help those in need, and countless efforts by Republicans to reach responsible solutions, the Murphy administration showed no urgency to provide any legitimate long-term assistance. If these funds are clawed back by President Biden and the federal government, the fault will land squarely on the Murphy administration.”
In addition to allowing billions of dollars to go unused while inflation destroyed its value, Senate Republicans argued that Governor Murphy wasted money on items that were not related to COVID or economic development, Senators said.
“Republicans elevated solutions to provide aid quickly and efficiently while the money that was spent by the Murphy administration bankrolled Democrat priorities,” said Senator Michael Testa (R-1). “It’s disturbing that the Murphy administration neglected working families, businesses, and even school children by cutting education funding to prioritize giving thousands of dollars in cash to convicted felons leaving jail and to buy himself and his cabinet new SUVs. The Murphy administration must explain why struggling New Jersey families aren’t a priority for this governor. It’s despicable.”
One of the more profligate abuses of federal stimulus money came in the form of several brand-new leased SUVs purchased by the Murphy administration, Senators said.
Senate Republicans criticized Governor Murphy for the misuse of funds, as Democrats said the vehicles were necessary for the Governor to provide leadership and support to the State’s COVID-19 recovery efforts — even though the pandemic was over, Senators said.
“It’s unconscionable that Governor Murphy has used federal stimulus money on his own administration and left billions more on the table while leaving struggling families to fend for themselves in one of the worst economic environments of our lifetime,” said Senator Doug Steinhardt (R-23). “Rather than work with Republicans to lower taxes and improve our state’s infrastructure, Governor Murphy sat on billions of dollars and refused to put them to effective use.”