NJ's Murphy signs three-month, $7.6B spending plan

TRENTON, N.J. (1010 WINS) -- Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed into law a three-month, $7.6 billion budget that he said was filled with “cuts and uncertainty."

The $7.632 billion spending plan slashes approximately $1.2 billion in previously authorized spending and includes “across-the-board” cuts, Murphy said during his daily briefing Tuesday. 

The plan does not include nearly $850 million in new program funds the governor proposed in February, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Jersey, he said.

“The fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are as unprecedented as the public health emergency itself,” he said. “In the most essential terms, this three-month plan can be described in two words: cuts and uncertainty.” 

While the plan provides a “cushion” for the state, New Jersey still needs the federal government's assistance to recover from the economic toll the pandemic has taken, Murphy noted. 

“Make no mistake: we cannot just cut our way forward,” he said. “While the tough decisions we have made now will see us through the next 91 days, absent greater financial flexibility, they will pale in comparison to those which lay just around the corner.” 

The New Jersey General Assembly has already passed a bill that will allow Murphy’s administration to borrow the “essential funds” it needs to cover pandemic-related services, but the bill still needs the Senate’s support, he said. 

Murphy’s budget announcement came a day after he said the state would indefinitely postpone its plan to allow limited indoor dining.The governor said COVID-19 spikes in other states, as well as a “complete disregard for social distancing” by some New Jerseyans, contributed to the decision. 

Murphy on Tuesday reported 461 new COVID-19 cases and 47 new deaths, bringing the state’s case total to 171,667 and its death toll to 13,181. Hospitalizations dropped below 1,000 on Tuesday, but the rate of COVID-19 transmission in the state increased to 0.88 percent, he said. 

“Keep practicing social distancing. Keep wearing your face covering,” he wrote on Twitter. “We cannot be lulled into complacency. We’ve worked too hard to get on the road back. Let’s stay there.”