NEW JERSEY – Senator Anthony M. Bucco said it’s time for Governor Phil Murphy to restore all State government services and staffing to pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re still hearing from constituents who are having trouble with MVC and unemployment issues, and they’re going to agency offices where they’re denied help or told to go somewhere else,” said Bucco (R-25). “With the rest of New Jersey getting back to normal, there’s no excuse for State employees to still be working from home or for a full range of services not to be offered at every location.”
Bucco pointed to the Motor Vehicle Commission’s classification of agencies as either licensing centers or vehicle centers that only handle certain types of transactions as an unnecessary inconvenience for drivers that should end.
“As the MVC dealt with a massive backlog from months of closures in 2020, it made sense to let agencies focus temporarily on certain types of transactions to help process the backlog a little faster,” Bucco said. “Today, however, customers are realizing that it’s a major inconvenience not to have every MVC service offered at every location. In many instances, drivers are going to the wrong location or are forced to travel long distances for services that used to be offered at their local agency. What made sense when agencies reopened in July of 2020 doesn’t make much sense today.”
Bucco said that Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40) announced new legislation Tuesday to address this issue after hearing complaints from constituents.
Similarly, Bucco pointed to the failure of the New Jersey Department of Labor (DOL) to focus customer-facing offices on the services most requested by New Jerseyans. People who desperately need help with unemployment are turned away from the DOL’s One-Stop Career Centers and instructed to try again through the same online and phone-based systems that failed them repeatedly.
“We continue to hear from New Jerseyans who are beyond frustrated that the Murphy administration refuses to offer walk-in unemployment help at Labor offices,” said Bucco. “For whatever reason, their claims are frozen or they can’t get simple answers through the online or phone-based unemployment system. All they need is five minutes in front of a live person to get help resetting their claim, proving their identity, or getting a question answered. Instead, the Murphy administration will only offer career services at these offices, not the in-person unemployment help people continue to request. It’s a stubborn refusal by the administration to listen to what New Jerseyans actually want. There’s no excuse.”
Those unemployment concerns were echoed today by Senator Michael Testa (R-1) and the delegation from the 1st Legislative District at a press conference where new legislation was announced to require the NJDOL to offer in-person unemployment services.
Bucco said he’s hearing the same story repeated by constituents who are trying to contact Executive branch departments and agencies for a variety of concerns, including human services, permitting, taxation, and more.
The Murphy administration’s failure to return all Executive branch employees to their offices by the October 18, 2021 deadline set by the governor last summer has been widely reported.
“New Jerseyans are beyond frustrated that nobody’s home and the lights still seem to be off in many offices across the Murphy administration,” Bucco said. “Governor Murphy needs to get every single person in his administration back to work right now.”