By a 58-21 vote along party lines, the Democratically-controlled Assembly this afternoon approved emergency legislation supported by Governor Phil Murphy to borrow $5 billion in state bonds, one of the highest debt issues in the history of New Jersey. Amid a global pandemic and an economy in its worst financial state since the Great Depression, Democrats believe the Governor’s plan will help New Jersey to stay afloat and continue to provide essential services.
Republicans feel otherwise. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R – District 21), along with the NJGOP, plan to sue the Governor and his Administration. Bramnick says there has been a lack of transparency with the COVID-19 Emergency Bond Act, citing just one hearing on the matter prior to today’s Assembly vote.
Bramnick, Senator Steve Oroho (R – District 24) and NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt held a press conference this afternoon announcing their lawsuit. The Republicans claim Murphy’s plan makes Governor Jim Florio’s and Governor Jon Corzine’s plans “look like they were fiscal conservatives.”
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee is calling Bramnick and Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R – District 21) hypocrites. The NJDSC issued the following press release prior to today’s Assembly passage of the COVID-19 Emergency Bond Act:
GOP Leaders Playing Politics With Peoples’ Lives, Risking Layoffs of First Responders, Public Health Workers During COVID-19
TRENTON, NJ — Republican legislative leaders Senator Tom Kean, Jr. and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick want people to think that they are crusading against a potential property tax increase by opposing Governor Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 Emergency Borrowing Plan. The problem? Both Kean and Bramnick, longtime Trenton insiders, sponsored previous bonding authorization bills with the exact same language they now oppose, exposing them as the ultimate Trenton hypocrites as they risk the jobs of police officers, firefighters, teachers and public health workers in the name of their usual partisan attacks.
Both Kean and Bramnick were primary sponsors of the “Building Our Future Bond Act” of 2012, which authorized $750 million in general obligation bonds to finance higher education capital projects. The bill included precisely the same language that Governor Murphy’s plan includes now, which deals with the state being unable to meet its bond obligations, an extraordinarily remote possibility.
“Throughout this crisis too many Trenton politicians have put politics ahead of peoples’ lives and livelihoods, but this might be the most egregious example of it yet,” said Saily Avelenda, NJDSC Executive Director. “It’s astounding to see Kean and Bramnick conveniently forget their own support for bonding when it’s essential public workers we are now trying to protect.”
With the Assembly poised to vote on the Governor’s plan today, NJDSC has launched a petition where residents can voice their support for the bill. The party will continue to advocate for the passage of the bill to prevent layoffs of first responders, teachers, public health workers and more.
The New Jersey Senate still must vote on the legislation.