Text of Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt’s testimony before the Assembly Budget Committee this morning on Gov. Phil Murphy’s borrowing plan:
Good morning Members of the Assembly Budget Committee and Chairwoman Pintor-Marin. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
My name is Doug Steinhardt. I’m the Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee. I’m also a lifelong resident of NJ.
I’m here today because the COVID lockdown, and the time it afforded me with my family, reminded me more than ever that family is worth fighting for. As we’ve had to adapt from physical face time, to FaceTime the app, I realized I don’t want to be one of those parents or grandparents who has to visit his children or grandchildren on Skype or Zoom, because my family can’t afford buy a house here, find a job here, or start a life here. Excess spending, and Governor Murphy’s multi-billion dollar borrowing scheme that you contemplate today, combine to make that more likely and NJ less affordable.
No budget that doesn’t cut taxes, reduce spending, revamp COAH, rewrite the school funding formula, improve education, embrace seniors and include meaningful pension reforms will ever make NJ affordable again or restore New Jerseyans’ faith in their Governor or government.
The Governor’s proposed borrowing scheme continues a pattern fashioned during this crisis of government overreach and blatant disregard for NJ Supreme Court precedent and our State and Federal Constitutions. I encourage this body not to be complicit in the Governor’s lawlessness. Reject it.
Don’t just be led, be leaders yourselves. Don’t tell us you’re listening, show us. Don’t confirm what many of us already suspect, that as a result of this coronavirus crisis, we’re no longer a government of three branches, but merely a government of one.
There are reasonable alternatives that put NJ on a better path. Tax cuts put more money in people’s pockets. Tax increases take it. Borrowing schemes buy the appearance of stability, but they make us less stable. Use this opportunity to improve our worst-in-the-nation tax climate by implementing tax cutting policies that embrace small business and put New Jerseyans back to work.
The hardest part of leadership isn’t having the courage to do what’s right, it’s resisting the temptation to do what’s easy. Thinking we can borrow and tax our way out of a recession sounds easy, but it isn’t.
I ask this Committee not to fall back into the same bad habits that brought us here. Reject the Governor’s scheme; don’t own it yourselves. We can avoid our otherwise inevitable economic collapse by adopting fiscally responsible policies that help New Jerseyans get back on their feet without burying them deeper in debt.
Thank you for your time today. Be healthy and stay safe.