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Oroho & Wirths Call for JBOC to Meet to Discuss Use of Billions of Pandemic Relief Funds Sent to NJ

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Senator Steven Oroho (R-24) and Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-24) called for a meeting of the Joint Budget Oversight Committee (JBOC) to discuss how billions of dollars of State and federal funds that the Murphy administration has yet to utilize will be employed to benefit New Jerseyans.

Sen. Steven Oroho and Asm. Hal Wirths called for a meeting of the Joint Budget Oversight Committee to discuss how billions of dollars of State and federal funds that the Murphy administration has yet to utilize will be employed to benefit New Jerseyans. (©iStock)

Oroho and Wirths, the Republican budget officers in the Senate and General Assembly, made their request in a letter (click here for PDF) to Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36) and Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29), co-chairs of the JBOC.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairs Sarlo and Pintor Marin:

We are following up with you to again urge the Joint Budget Oversight Committee to meet as soon as possible with respect to its role in directing the use of billions of dollars of federal block grants. Such a meeting is clearly warranted, especially after a recent report that the Governor has failed to use hardly any of the more than $6.2 billion of funds received more than three months ago. We are additionally asking that JBOC inquire at the meeting as to why the Governor has failed to propose – much less use – a single dime of the $3.7 billion State-funded New Jersey Debt Defeasance and Avoidance Fund created almost three months ago.

As you know, we believe it is unconscionable that none of the federal funds have been used to staunch a deficit in the Unemployment Insurance Fund projected by the Governor to grow to $1 billion by year’s end or to stop an employer tax scheduled to take effect on October 30. We are equally concerned that the Office of Legislative Services issued a report indicating none of the money already appropriated to help tenants catch up on landlord payments, and only about 2% of funds overall, have been utilized to alleviate suffering or get people back to work. We need to pressure action and consideration of proposals important to our constituents.

Similarly, $3.7 billion of State funds set aside to retire debt and advance important capital needs without new indebtedness remains unused while we continue to pay interest on debt, miss out on investment opportunities in the pension fund, and increase our debt in the Unemployment Trust Fund (rapidly approaching $1 billion in debt the Governor has estimated will exist as of June 30, 2021.) Meanwhile, important capital projects that could prevent flooding, improve water and sewer systems, and improve parks and schools sits dormant while we have crumbling infrastructure on top of a 7.3% unemployment rate that is among the worst in the country.

As we indicated in a letter to you dated August 18, JBOC should aggressively advance the needs and interests of our constituents and not wait for the Governor to finally get around to proposing a plan of action and then rubber-stamp it. For the reasons above and those contained in our earlier letter, we again urge you to call a meeting of the Joint Budget Oversight Committee to question representatives of the Murphy Administration and to help spur the use of money to avoid tax increases, alleviate suffering, and get people back to work.

Sincerely,

Steven V. Oroho
Senate Republican Budget Officer

Harold “Hal” Wirths
Assembly Republican Budget Officer

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