Gov. Phil Murphy revealed a spending plan last week that relies on borrowing while increasing taxes for millionaires, cigarettes, firearms and more. It also restores funding to property tax relief programs that were put on hold amid coronavirus' economic turmoil. The proposed $32.4 billion budget, which would fund the state from October to June 2021, includes $4 billion of borrowed money and allows for a $2.2 billion surplus. The Legislature will now begin drafting its own budget bills, which must be passed by Sept. 30. The fiscal year typically begins July 1, but this year lawmakers delayed it until Oct. 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic. A three month spending bill was passed to bridge the gap.
Murphy wants to borrow $4 billion for this budget, though his proposal doesn't commit to where those funds will come from (the public market, which would mean a longer repayment term, or loans from a federal stimulus plan). The Legislature authorized Murphy to borrow up to 9.9 Billion, and the state Supreme Court signed off, but borrowing first has to be approved by a small commission of lawmakers.
The state Republican Party is trying to put a stop to Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order making November's election a mostly vote-by-mail event, arguing it violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The order issued would send a ballot to every eligible voter whether the voter has applied to vote by mail or not. Polling places will still be available —at least one in every municipality — but in-person votes will be considered provisional until officials verify the same voter didn't send in a mail-in ballot. Provisional ballots are counted later, after election officials can verify if you haven’t already voted by mail. Republicans said they are concerned that the order treats votes made in person as "second class" because they are only considered provisional. They cited rejected ballots and allegations of voter fraud in Paterson, where 900 ballots mailed in bulk during this year's primary election have yet to be counted, as demonstrating the potential for fraud.
August left us with windy, rainy conditions from Tropical Storm Isaias that caused us more than 326,884 power outages statewide. We remain committed in making sure we hold these electric companies accountable. Our office is always available for constituents. I will never stop fighting for this state and the values in which I have always believed. The world may be changing at a rapid pace, but we are still a great state and it is up to us as lawmakers and leaders in New Jersey to make sure of that.
Kevin J. Rooney
Message from the Assemblyman: