The four Republican members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee panned Governor Phil Murphy’s recommended changes to legislation approved by the Legislature with broad bipartisan support in mid-May that would have allowed the State to more easily and quickly furlough non-essential public employees while they were unable to work with the federal government picking up all of the tab of unemployment benefits.

Senate Republicans panned Gov. Murphy’s furlough plan as ‘too little, too late,’ saying his delayed action has left hundreds of millions of federal dollars on the table, and will leave State government offices understaffed just as they begin to reopen facing a backlog in citizen needs. (Pixabay)

The members, Senate Republican Budget Officer Steven Oroho (R-24), Senator Sam Thompson (R-12), Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13), and Senator Michael Testa (R-1), issued the following joint statement prior to today’s Senate session when the entire Senate Republican caucus will vote “NO” on accepting the the governor’s recommendations in his conditional veto of S-2350/A-4132:

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“Like many aspects of Governor Murphy’s response to the coronavirus crisis, his delayed action on furloughs is too little, too late. By failing to enact the original legislation when it passed the Legislature in May with overwhelming bipartisan support, he left hundreds of millions of federal dollars on the table. Even worse, the cost of furloughing workers going forward will be paid almost 100% by New Jersey taxpayers, when the cost of the original bill would have been picked up entirely by the federal government. To say the governor’s inaction represents a missed opportunity would be an understatement.

“Additionally, what the governor has proposed to do this late in the game makes no sense. He should have taken our advice and furloughed State workers two or three months ago when much of the economy was shut down, including government offices. By doing so, he could have reduced the State payroll significantly, reducing the budget crisis we are now in. Many of those workers who were getting paid their regular salaries to not work could have made more if furloughed for several months when their offices were closed with the extra $600 of weekly federal unemployment benefits available during that time.

“Instead, the governor now wants to rush to furlough State government workers as the extra federal unemployment benefit is expiring, and just as many New Jersey government offices have begun to reopen facing a backlog in citizen needs. After months of being closed, you only need to look at the massive lines at newly reopened MVC agencies to understand that this is a really bad idea. For those reasons, our caucus will have to vote ‘NO’ on the governor’s irresponsible furlough plan.”