Editor’s Note: This article was updated with comment from the Bhimani and Draeger campaign at 5:23 p.m.
Denville Councilman Brian Bergen called on the Democrats seeking the 25th legislative district’s Assembly seats to say where they stand on the budget legislative leaders passed last Thursday.
“It’s been almost one week since the Assembly voted on the budget, and 25th district taxpayers have yet to hear how Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger would have voted themselves,” Bergen said. “I would have been a resounding ‘no’ to a budget filled with hundreds of millions of dollars for special interests, massive cuts to 25th district schools, and over $1 billion increase in spending.”
Some school districts in the 25th saw their aid cut, with Roxbury, Washington and Randolph seeing cumulative cuts of roughly $2 million, but most of the district’s towns saw a bump in their funding. Dover alone saw its state aid jump by $2.6 million.
Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, the district’s only incumbent, voted against the appropriations bill, which passed the budget 53-24 in a vote along party lines.
The two Republicans will face Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger in November.
“Instead of taking pot-shots across the aisle, Bergen should take a look at his own running mate, whose family dynasty has represented this district for decades and consistently failed to deliver for our communities,” the Democrats’ campaign manager, Daniel Fleiss, said. “Lisa and Darcy are committed to fighting for the 25th district and ensuring we get our fair share in any budget. That means fully funding our schools, investing in our communities to create good paying jobs, and providing real property tax relief – which is exactly what their opponents have repeatedly failed to accomplish.”
Bucco steered clear of the contested primary in his own district.
He was the top vote-getter in the four-candidate race by a wide margin.
“Needless to say, it must be troubling for Trenton Democrats that Bhimani and Draeger have been silent about a budget that overwhelmingly passed their caucus,” Bergen said. “Especially because in a 2017 campaign tweet Bhimani indicated her wish to give Phil Murphy a ‘veto-proof majority’ in Trenton, which would blindly support every single one of his costly proposals and make New Jersey even less affordable than it is today.”
Tying budget passed by legislators to Bhimani’s support for Gov. Phil Murphy is an odd move.
The governor has railed against legislative leaders for their lack of support of a millionaire’s tax. A number of other tax hikes Murphy sought, including fees for opioid manufacturers and an increase in gun licensing fees, did not make it into the final bill.
“It’s time for Bhimani and Draeger to tell us whether they stand with the taxpayers of Morris and Somerset Counties or the same Democratic politicians who are bleeding this state dry with their out-of-control tax-and-spend policies,” Bergen said.