Essex County, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced his support of Governor Phil Murphy's proposal to borrow $9 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve to balance the State Budget. On Friday, May 29th, DiVincenzo sent a letter of support to the Governor; the letter was also signed by 17 of the Mayors in Essex County, including Sheena Collum of South Orange and Frank McGehee of Maplewood.

"We are all aware that COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the physical health of our residents as well as the fiscal stability of New Jersey's finances. As the State stands to face a revenue shortfall of approximately $10 billion through the 2021 fiscal year, in addition to having to cover the unexpected expenditures necessary to continue combatting the coronavirus, it is imperative that the State find an alternate means to balance its budget. In the absence of support from the Federal government, we believe the most prudent step to take is to borrow $9 billion to cover the shortfall," DiVincenzo stated in the letter.

DiVincenzo said he is supportive of the bipartisan $500 billion State and Municipal Aid for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Fund that was introduced by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and co-authored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). "The legislation proposed by Senator Menendez would provide New Jersey and rest of the country with the appropriate level of relief funds to balance their budgets without borrowing. If this bill is not passed, then the only alternative would be to borrow money," the County Executive said. The SMART Fund builds upon the existing $150 billion set aside in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help state and local governments, and gives them greater flexibility to use those funds to plug revenue losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak, while targeting funding to the nation's coronavirus hot zones. DiVincenzo has shared his support with Menendez and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ 11), who is leading the effort in the House of Representative to pass the bill.

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The County Executive noted that if the State budget is negatively impacted and extreme cost-cutting and layoffs were made, Counties and Municipalities also would be adversely affected since the local governments rely on the State for grants and other revenue support. "The effects of the proposed cuts will drastically impact our ability to keep our staff working, provide much needed services to our constituents and operate government with a high level of efficiency and  effectiveness   from  the  County  level  and  on  the municipal level as well. This includes critical functions and essential employees, including police, fire, teachers and other government employees who provide supportive services to vulnerable populations," the County Executive wrote.

Signing the letter with the County Executive are Belleville Mayor Michael Melham, Bloomfield Mayor Michael J. Venezia, Caldwell Mayor John Kelly, East Orange Mayor Ted R. Green, Glen Ridge Stuart K. Patrick, Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss, Livingston Mayor Rudy Fernandez, Maplewood Frank McGehee, Millburn Jackie Benjamin Lieberberg, Montclair Mayor Robert D. Jackson, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Nutley Mayor Mauro G. Tucci, Orange Mayor Dwayne D. Warren, Roseland Mayor James Spango, South Orange Village President Sheena C. Collum, Verona Mayor Jack McEvoy and West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi.