Former Gov. Dick Codey (D-Roseland) urged Senate President Steve Sweeney to post Gov. Phil Murphy’s borrowing plan for a vote.
“New Jersey is facing a financial pandemic. By September, the state’s checks will bounce. Schools’ checks will bounce. Counties’ checks will bounce.” Codey said. “The size of this crisis is second only to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we can avoid the worst of it if we act now.”
The plan, which would allow New Jersey to borrow up to $5 billion to shore up budget shortfalls over this fiscal year and the next, was advanced by the Assembly Budget Committee in a vote along party lines Monday.
Though Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has clearly indicated his support for the plan, Senate President Steve Sweeney has been more reticent.
Though three South Jersey Democrats were among those who voted to advance the measure on Monday, Sweeney has yet to post the bill.
“We have to do this, and the sooner the better. At this rate by fall there will not be enough money to run the state, and shortfall will quickly reach the local governments and schools as well,” said Codey, who is one of Murphy’s foremost allies in the legislature. “The incredible loss of revenue from the income tax, sales tax, and casino tax leaves a hole in the state budget that can’t be responsibly resolved in any other way.”
Murphy and Treasury officials have repeatedly warned of massive cuts they say will be necessarily to keep the state afloat in the absence of borrowing and additional federal aid.
Negotiations at the federal level on the latter have stalled for the moment, though state officials have continued to lobby their national counterparts on the issue.
“This is an unprecedented situation. We have seen tough times before and made it through recessions and natural disasters, but COVID-19 is different,” Codey said. “It came without warning, and continues to affect all parts of the state. We have to preserve our vital services and we don’t have a choice but to do this.”