Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano criticized Governor Murphy and Trenton Democrats for their lack of transparency and accountability during the final days of their fiscal year 2024 budget negotiations.
"Looking back at last week, the $54.3 billion budget that was rammed down our throats lacked both transparency and accountability to the taxpayers of this state. Democrats provided no explanation for the more than one billion dollars of pork that was added to the budget at the last minute," said Sen. Holzapfel. "It is unconscionable that Democrats inappropriately rushed the process, shut down public testimony, and forced our Republican colleagues on the budget committee to vote using inaccurate scoresheets for a bill that didn't exist at the time when votes were cast. Democrats in Trenton may not value accuracy, but the taxpayers of New Jersey deserve transparency, honesty, and the ability to speak on how their tax dollars are being spent."
Governor Murphy signed a record $54.3 billion budget into law for the 2024 fiscal year after Democrats nearly caused a government shut down over hundreds of unexplained last-minute changes to the budget bill. Some of the funding that was not explained during the budget process included $24 million in new funding for a French Arts Museum. Republicans criticized this new funding, citing that the museum currently has $28 million sitting in a state account that will carry over into 2024.
This money represents unspent funds from previous budget appropriations that were made in 2021 for $24 million and earlier in 2023 for $10 million.
"It is entirely unacceptable that Democrats bring us down to the wire year after year only to pass flawed budgets with no explanation of how tax dollars are being spent. Spending an additional $24 million dollars for a French Arts Museum that already has $28 million is an egregious abuse of taxpayer dollars when you have schools that are underfunded throughout the state," said Asm. McGuckin. "No one had an opportunity to review this budget in committee, but Democrats rushed it through to avoid having to explain more $1 billion of pork that was added at the last minute. There was no transparency during this budget process and zero accountability from the Democrats to the taxpayers of New Jersey."
In addition to the chaos surrounding the budget process, Democrats delayed StayNJ property tax relief plan until 2026.
"In an attempt to divert attention from their trainwreck of budget follies, Democrats promised an idea of property tax cuts for seniors with no guarantee that they will ever see a penny of relief. Democrats pushed the delivery of StayNJ property tax relief until 2026, and blocked Republican amendments that would have started the tax relief program immediately," said Asm. Catalano. "This budget is nothing but smoke and mirrors. People weren't told what was in the budget when it passed without an actual bill being available, and what they were promised under StayNJ may never materialize. This is not good for our state and does not represent good governance."