Home>Governor>Murphy: ‘Too early to tell’ whether Sweeney proposal for $1 billion in new pension payments dead

Gov. Phil Murphy ad Senate President Steve Sweeney, visit pre-K classrooms at Oakview Elementary School in the West Deptford School District to discuss the benefits of expanding pre-K education and his FY2020 Budget, April 15, 2019. Edwin J. Torres/ Governor's Office.

Murphy: ‘Too early to tell’ whether Sweeney proposal for $1 billion in new pension payments dead

Budget in turmoil as state faces fiscal tumble over COVID-19 crisis

By Nikita Biryukov, March 26 2020 4:28 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy said it’s not yet clear whether the state’s fiscal tumble has left Senate President Steve Sweeney’s proposal for $1 billion in additional pension contributions in exchange for a millionaire’s tax dead in the water.

“Steve did want more money in the pension fund. By the way, so did we. We put it in in our budget. It’s too early to tell,” the governor said at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing.

Murphy’s budget, which was introduced before the COVID-19 crisis turned economies in the state and country downward, called for a record $4.6 billion pension contribution.

Sweeney wanted $1 billion added to that.

Before the downturn, Murphy said he was open to the idea, though it’s not clear whether or not such a commitment will be possible.

State Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio froze more than $920 million in spending for the current fiscal year in preparation for revenues that are likely to fall far short of projections.

Muoio said the 2021 budget will likely face further revenue declines and need significant adjustments.

Murphy said the lack of clarity was in part due to mysteries surrounding a yet-to-be finalized federal bailout that lawmakers hope will ease New Jersey’s financial strains.

“We’re now starting to digest … assuming the House votes on this tomorrow — I think that’s the overwhelming assumption — exactly what this means for us,” he said.

That bailout package, valued at around $2 trillion, will include money to bolster the unemployment insurance fund and provide direct payments to taxpayers.

Murphy has called the bailout a good start, adding that the state would almost certainly need additional aid.

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