TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy at his COVID-19 press conference today, slammed U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who is supporting a bill that does not include additional funding for states, such as New Jersey, that have suffered serious economic hardships because of the coronavirus.
“Because of this pandemic, we’re undergoing a fiscal crisis the likes of which has only happened twice in our state’s 244-year history – the Civil War and the Great Depression,” Murphy said. “What New Jersey has gotten back is a drop in the bucket compared to our needs.”
The governor said that in May, he projected that the pandemic would dig a $9.9 billion-dollar budget hole for the state by June of next year.
“We’re not alone,” Murphy explained. “The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy estimates that, nationwide, states are staring down a combined hole of $555 billion by fiscal year 2022.”
The Center on Budget and Policy issued a newly released report entitled, "More Relief Needed to Alleviate Hardship," that found households are struggling to afford food and pay rent.
Murphy said that Senator McConnell’s bill will “leave millions out in the stifling summer heat to wither.”
“It would hurt the very people who are going to rebuild our country stronger after this pandemic passes,” Murphy said. “We’ll do everything we can to get this message through to him. He has my word on that.”
The governor also shared his concerns that over the past five months, more than 120,000 New Jerseyans have lost their health insurance, while the costs of Medicaid have risen.
“We need essential federal aid to support these residents. In the midst of a health care and an unemployment crisis, it would be cruel to see them cut out,” he said.
“We cannot ignore our current needs: meeting sharply increased costs for emergency response, public education, public transit, small business aid, and the full range of social services that New Jerseyans rely upon,” Murphy said. “We cannot fully support our districts in the upcoming school year without help from Washington. We’re staring at a $1 billion cut in aid to our public schools.”
“We’ll have to further cut operating aid to our colleges and universities, which we’ve already cut by over $200 million,” said Murphy, who admitted that New Jersey is not alone in its economic woes because of the coronavirus. “In May, we projected that this pandemic would dig a $9.9 billion-dollar budget hole by June of next year.”
The governor said that in response to the looming fiscal crisis, New Jersey has 1) slashed planned spending to enact an austere stopgap budget, 2) dipped into the Rainy Day Fund to get through the next two months, and 3) directed all state departments to plan for 15 percent budget cuts starting this fall.
Latest COVID Numbers
Gov. Murphy reported an additional confirmed 24 COVID-19 deaths, which brings the state’s total number of confirmed deaths to 13,787. He added that the number of “probable deaths” dropped to 1,920 since some prior cases have been resolved.
The governor announced 873 COVID-19 patients in New Jersey, 423 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19 and 450 who are listed as “Persons Under Investigation” pending the return of test results. He said that of those patients, 151 are in either critical or intensive care and 77 of them are on ventilators.
“Our hospital trends continue in the right direction, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We must remain vigilant, so we don’t experience a rebound of COVID-19,” said Murphy, who announced a spot positivity rate for tests from July 18 was 2.48 percent. Meanwhile, the rate of transmission stands at 0.90.
“These are among our best indicators related to the continuing spread of coronavirus. The lower both numbers get, the slower the spread,” Murphy said. “Keep social distancing. Keep wearing a mask. We’re all in this together.”