HACKENSACK, NJ -- NJ Advance Media reported Sunday that Governor Phil Murphy’s administration planned to shift $33 million from the New Jersey State Firemen's Association in the proposed 2019 State budget.
This prompted a strong reaction from Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, firefighter for more than 40 years.
“Just a few weeks into my first term as County Executive and again this year, Bergen County faced two catastrophic fires at the Avalon apartment complex in Edgewater and the Marcal paper factory in Elmwood Park, with hundreds of firefighters responding from all over the region," said Tedesco at the time. "These brave men and women, both career and volunteer, put their lives on the line every day to keep our county and our state safe and we owe it to them to make sure they have access to the relief assistance they need.”
On Wednesday, Governor Phil Murphy announced he had changed his stance and supported preserving $33 million in funding in the New Jersey Firemen’s Association fund for the upcoming fiscal year 2020 budget. The fund is supported by a two percent tax on fire insurance policies written by out-of-state insurers on New Jersey properties, which brings in about $30 million annually.
“We have listened to the concerns of our brothers and sisters in the firefighter community, whom I have the utmost respect and admiration for,” Governor Murphy said Wednesday. “As a result, I can say unequivocally that we are taking this budget option off the table."
The NJSFA, along with 538 local relief groups, provides burial benefits, financial assistance, a retirement home and in-home medical care for New Jersey’s firefighters.
"I’m pleased that the Governor has committed to preserving $33 million in funding for the Firemen’s Relief Fund in his 2020 budget," Tedesco said after Wednesday's announcement. "In times of need, our firefighters and their families deserve nothing less than our full support and I’m grateful Governor Murphy agrees.”