Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) issued a statement today following news that the Governor has proposed taking $33 million from the State Firefighters Relief Fund designed to pay for burials of fallen firefighters and financial assistance for firefighters in need:
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon called Gov. Murphy’s proposal to divert $33 million from the State Firefighters Relief Fund “baffling.” (Pixabay)
“It is beyond confusing, and frankly shocking, that the Administration was not more proactive in reaching out to stakeholders after the comptroller’s report on the status of the relief fund was released. Although the fund appears to be flush, it could quickly and easily be depleted if we were to mismanage any reallocation of funds and completely destroy the initial intent of the fund: to aid needy firefighters.
“Talking to all stakeholders before committing to a funding or policy change is imperative to ensuring that you are not creating an even larger problem than the one you might be trying to solve. When I learned that the Governor had not engaged all entities in the firefighter community before he chose to take $33 million from the firefighters’ fund and move it into the budget I was baffled. I’ve had some frank, tough discussions with the firefighting community and other public workers about the critical fiscal issues we face. Those discussions are not always fun. But that makes it all the more imperative that the discussions are had, that the respect is shown, that input is genuinely sought and taken into account.
“Firefighters are a critical component of our public safety and first responder community. These funds should be used for the betterment of our firefighters and perhaps improvement of the state of the sector itself, not to plug up completely unrelated budget holes. Since the issuance of the Comptroller’s report we have been reaching out to stakeholders to discuss the best way to expand access to, and manage the fund to fortify the firefighting community without destroying the fund’s primary intent.”