Gov. Phil Murphy is backing off a proposal in his budget to pull $33 million out of a fund used for burials, medical care and other expenses for the state’s firefighters.
“We have listened to the concerns of our brothers and sisters in the firefighter community, whom I have the utmost respect and admiration for,” Murphy said. “As a result, I can say unequivocally that we are taking this budget option off the table. The Administration remains committed to ensuring that no family of a fallen New Jersey firefighter will go without help during their greatest time of need. I remain open to working with the Legislature to explore options to loosen the restrictions on the use of these funds so we can provide greater assistance for firefighters and their families.”
New Jersey Advanced Media first reported that Murphy’s budget would draw money out of the fund.
The governor faced backlash over the proposal from firefighter groups and some legislators, including Senate President Steve Sweeney, who said his chamber would not pass a budget that pulled money from the firefighter fund Tuesday.
“I want to thank the Administration for being willing to listen and remaining fluid in their position on the use of these funds,” said Dominick Marino, President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. “We look forward to continuing to work with them to build upon the core mission of this fund.”
Murphy intends to provide legislators with an amended copy of the budget next week.
Currently, the fund holds roughly $186 million, enough to fund its operations for six years.
“This is welcome news and we thank the Governor and his Administration for being receptive to our concerns,” said Robert Ordway, President of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association. “The Firemen’s Association has a long, proud legacy in this state and we are grateful that the Administration is committed to maintaining that legacy.”