Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt is accusing Gov. Phil Murphy withholding almost $2 billion in CARES Act dollars from the Coronavirus Relief Fund that could be used to help struggling New Jersey residents and businesses.
“Governor Murphy is sitting on a nearly $2 billion mountain of money that could save New Jersey small businesses, and he’s lying to all of us about it,” Steinhardt alleged. “Murphy is hoarding it hoping he can use it to balance his bloated budget.”
Murphy criticized the Trump Administration last week for placing conditions on the CARES Act that could force the state to return funds to the federal government.
Steinhardt claims that Murphy has sent completed just one $5 million small business grant that received more than 30,000 application, but less than 2,000 have been approved.
“The CARES Act was meant to help people who are directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic like frontline medical workers, small business owners and their employees, and people infected with COVID-19,” he said.
The Murphy administration pushed back on Steinhardt’s assertions.
“Without changes to the guidance and additional federal aid, we will continue to have a massive budget hole that needs to be filled or we face a host of cuts in state spending,” said Darryl Isherwood, a spokesman for Murphy. “With that in mind we have sought additional flexibility in how CARES Act funds can be spent.”
Steinhardt, a potential candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination next year, believes the U.S. Department of the Treasury allows CARES Act funds to be used to assist small businesses in New Jersey.
“New Jerseyans should demand that the Governor send that money where it belongs, to create jobs, save businesses and help New Jersey’s nearly one million unemployed,” the GOP leader stated.
Isherwood disputed the premise of Steinhardt’s complaint.
“We have not in any way abandoned New Jersey’s small businesses. Through the EDA we have begun the process of aiding small businesses through a $40 million recovery program,” Isherwood explained. “We fully expect additional aid to be made available soon.”