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Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Ciattarelli wants spending cuts to aid economic recovery

GOP gubernatorial candidate urges fiscal update in virus briefings

By Nikita Biryukov, April 27 2020 3:20 pm

Gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli wants New Jersey to cut spending in preparation of potentially-massive revenue shortfalls spurred by the COVID-19 crisis.

“While New Jersey hopes and prays for a return to normalcy, it’s plain that nothing is normal about our state’s deteriorating fiscal position,” the former Assemblyman said. “The Governor himself has spoken of the ‘revenue cliff’ crashing our state’s finances.”

The extent of the virus’s impact on the state’s economy is still unclear, though massive spikes in unemployment and strict constraints on what businesses can remain open during the pandemic are likely to cause sizeable drops in sales and payroll tax revenues.

New Jersey Treasurer Liz Muoio froze nearly $1 billion of this year’s budget in March as a proactive measure.

She warned at the time that the budget Gov. Phil Murphy introduced in February would likely need significant revisions.

Ciattarellli wants those changes to include state employee cuts, furloughs and benefits reform, among other things.

“I have called for reviewing Governor Corzine’s Great Recession state employee pay freeze and furlough actions as a possible model, and I have long supported public employee benefit reforms,” he said. “It’s also time to review every program, contract and practice, no matter the size, and suspend or end those that we can do without temporarily or permanently.”

The Republican challenger also wants Murphy to lend more focus to the economy during his daily COVID-19 briefings.

“We currently don’t know the full extent of our state budget problems,” he said. “I urge the Governor to include a structured and consistent fiscal update in his COVID-19 press briefings, even if just once a week. That kind of transparency will be key to building a consensus on the way forward.”

Murphy on Monday announced a series of goals he wants to achieve before allowing businesses in the state to begin reopening.

Though he declined to give any clear timeline for the economic restart, he said it was a matter of weeks, not months.

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