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Senator Steven Oroho

Senator Declan O'Scanlon
Senator Michael Testa
Senator Sam Thompson
Senator Steve Oroho

Republican Budget Members Call on Treasurer to Reveal Information Critical to Health Care Premium Increases

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Republican members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee called on State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio to come clean with long-overdue responses to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) requests for data related to the steep increases in the cost of health care benefits.

Republican members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee called on State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio to come clean with long-overdue responses to OLS requests for data related to the steep increases in the cost of health care benefits. (SenateNJ.com)

The Treasurer has indicated her Department has not withheld information. OLS has no record of receiving a response.

In their letter (click here for PDF), the Republican Senators wrote: “Unless we are mistaken in our understanding that your department failed to answer the attached questions posed by OLS during the budget process, or unless you have simply been unaware of that reality, your position is disingenuous at best. All parties involved deserve the level of transparency that you’ve indicated has already occurred.”

The Senators’ message to the Treasurer: “We look forward to a quick response to this letter and something responsive to the questions and requests for data your department has failed to produce for the past 7 months.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Treasurer Muoio:

In March of this year, the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) requested that your department provide data and information about the Governor’s budget proposals to dramatically increase payments to the State Employee Health Benefits Plan.  We have attached the relevant requests for your review.

Despite the critical nature of these requests and the fact that similar requests in prior years were accommodated, Treasury failed to provide the requested data and information.  Had a response been provided with an honest admission about the problem of dramatically increasing health care claims, solutions could have been developed by all impacted parties.  Sadly, no responsive documents were provided during the budget process, and none have been provided to this day.

In recent press accounts, your department has maintained that the Department responded to OLS’ requests for information and that Treasury has never had anything to hide.

Please immediately provide us – and those copied on this letter – with responsive information related to the attached requests and the dates that you shared responses.  If responses do not exist, we ask that you concede that Treasury has been unresponsive, withheld information and data for the past seven months that would have warned of dramatic increases in health care premiums, and left its head in the sand rather than admit a problem and work in good faith with public employee unions leaders, legislators, and the public so that hundreds of thousands of employees and retirees, as well as every property taxpayer in this State, would not suffer the consequences on top of 10% inflation.

In recent days, you have maintained that any suggestion Treasury withheld information or did not do everything in its power to ensure transparency during the budget season is simply false.  Unless we are mistaken in our understanding that your department failed to answer the attached questions posed by OLS during the budget process, or unless you have simply been unaware of that reality, your position is disingenuous at best. All parties involved deserve the level of transparency that you’ve indicated has already occurred.

We look forward to a quick response to this letter and something responsive to the questions and requests for data your department has failed to produce for the past 7 months.

Sincerely,

Steven V. Oroho
Declan J. O’Scanlon, Jr.
Samuel D. Thompson
Michael L. Testa, Jr.

 

C:        Honorable Nicholas P. Scutari, Senate President
Members, Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
Honorable Phil Murphy, Governor
George Helmy, Chief of Staff

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