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State budget extension could affect legislator attendance at national conventions

Five budget committee members running for Trump or Biden delegate seats

By David Wildstein, April 01 2020 10:44 am

Moving expiration of the state budget from June 30 to September 30 could affect some political plans for several New Jersey legislators.

Two Republican senators who serve on the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee —Michael Testa, Jr. (R-Vineland) and Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge),  – are slated to be in Charlotte from August 24-27 as Donald Trump delegates to the Republican National Convention.

So is Assembly Majority Conference Leader Hal Wirths (R-Wantage), who serves on the Assembly Budget Committee.

The decision might also affect several Democrats on the Assembly Budget Committee who are running for district delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee from July 13-16.

John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro) and Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood) have filed as delegate candidates pledged to Joe Biden and are dependent upon Biden winning delegates in their districts.

That could force legislators into a Hobson’s Choice: skip the convention or miss budget committee meetings while the state is making massive decisions one the coronavirus pandemic shifts from being a public health emergency to a full-scale fiscal crisis.

There are workarounds, if legislative leaders and budget committee chairs approve.  The schedule of committee meetings could be juggled to accommodate the two national conventions.  They could also get “subbed out,” an informal legislative term where a different legislator substitutes for a committee member unable to attend.  There’s also a possibility that the budget hearings could still be conducted remotely.

Democrats have more flexibility, since their convention is a month earlier.

More Democratic legislators could win delegate seats when the rest of the delegation is picked in June.

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