NJ Gov., Congress Reps Lobby Feds for Bailout Over Coronavirus Unrest
Murphy said Wednesday that he would seek block grants for New Jersey , which are federal dollars with far more flexibility in how they can be used, as opposed to aid for specific programs.
“History will be very unkind to our country and our state if we undershoot,” Murphy said. “There’s no amount of money in any state New Jersey , New York , California , you name it there’s no amount of money that can deal with the challenges, the economic challenges, that can come from this.”
The governor unveiled his $40.9 billion spending plan in February, but the unrest from the coronavirus has thrown much of that proposal into chaos. The state's current budget has a $1.5 billion projected surplus, including a $401 million rainy day fund to ride out economic recessions.
To stop the spread of the coronavirus, Murphy has ordered the closure of tens of thousands of businesses across the state, while many others have seen steep declines in their patronage.
All this economic activity makes up billions of dollars in tax revenue each year for the state budget.
“You can’t do what we have done and not have a dramatic impact on, not just people’s lives, but on the health of the state’s budget and revenues,” the governor said.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney , D- 3rd District , proposed a two-month tax holiday on the sales tax and deferral on property taxes, while the state Assembly fast-tracked a one-month extension on the corporate business tax.
Most of those economic relief bills are slated for a Senate vote Thursday, but these taxes all makeup hundreds of billions of dollars in state revenue. The state constitution mandates that Murphy sign a state budget by midnight on June 30 or order a government shutdown.
The governor said he had a “constructive” call with the state’s Congressional delegation about getting those grants “as soon as possible.”
“That is the singular fastest and best way to shore up our finances,” he said.
Murphy said the financial status of New Jersey Transit amid the coronavirus outbreak was particularly worrisomethe decision for hundreds of thousands of commuters to work from home has taken a hit on the agency’s ridership and fare revenue.
Nationwide, state and local governments could need a combined $4 trillion from the federal government to plug these abruptly gaping holes in their budget, Murphy said, as Congress fastracks aid packages in the hundreds of billions of dollars for residents and businesses slammed by the outbreak.
On Wall Street , the COVID-19 panic has wiped away all the stock gains made since Donald Trump assumed the presidency in January 2017 .
CREDIT: Daniel J. Munoz