Senator Anthony M. Bucco (R-25) issued the following statement on the State of the State:
Sen. Tony Bucco’s statement on the State of the State. (SenateNJ.com)
“The people of New Jersey are resilient, but many are struggling after a very difficult year.
“Let me say at the outset that we stand united with the governor in condemning the violence at the Capitol last week. We owe it all our constituents to speak truthfully about the election results and condemn the acts of those who seek to overturn a democratic election with lies and violence.
“We also stand united in praising our front line health care workers and first responders who have risked their lives and health this year to server others. They are the best of New Jersey. We stand with the governor in praising their courage and bravery.
“The simple fact is, even with the unforeseen disruptions and challenges to our lives last year, the State of the State could be stronger if we didn’t have unnecessary missteps from this administration.
“More than 7,000 seniors in our nursing homes and long-term care facilities died after the Murphy Administration issued guidelines forcing them to accept COVID patients and forbidding them to even test if new admissions had the virus. Our state-run veterans facilities were the hardest hit.
“New Jersey was not the only state to make this mistake, but our results were horrible. Unfortunately, New Jersey’s COVID mortality rate is the worst in the country, and even worse than any country in the world. That’s not okay, and I urge Republicans and Democrats alike to examine what happened, hold people accountable, and make sure it never happens again.
“To do this, we need transparency. The Governor has repeatedly blocked efforts at transparency and fought releasing documents that could help us to prevent these mistakes from happening again. It is not acceptable in a free society to block public documents from the press.
“On the economy, many businesses have closed for good. Our unemployment levels remain too high and lag the region.
“The governor repeatedly said that ‘data determines dates,’ but has not shared what metrics guide his unilateral decisions. Because of that, his decisions and executive orders can seem arbitrary and unpredictable. This has made it difficult for our restaurants and Main Street shops to plan for their survival.
“Efforts by Republicans to appropriate billions in federal CARES Act funds promptly to support New Jersey’s small businesses and nonprofits were blocked at every turn. The governor let the money collect dust while businesses were going under, now with reports of one-third of small businesses in the state permanently closed, permanently destroying livelihoods of our friends and fellow New Jerseyans. It didn’t make any sense.
“And let’s not forget that the Governor grossly exaggerated the State’s budget deficit — at times saying it was $20 billion or $30 billion — to gain support for harmful tax increases and to convince the courts to support a massive borrowing scheme that would have been unconstitutional in any other situation. This will impact the State’s finances and cost our taxpayers for years to come, robbing critical funding our schools, infrastructure and property tax relief, to instead pay off massive debt for decades. Our state is now facing another financial rating downgrade, the lowest point in history.
“We hope the governor will work more with the Legislature this year, and strive to find bipartisan consensus on issues that matter to our state. These tumultuous times demand we transcend partisanship. Our caucus pledges to work with our colleagues across the aisle to do what’s in the best interest of New Jersey. We will be unafraid to debate when we think they or the governor are wrong, and we also are unafraid to extend our hands in friendship and cooperation to help our state and country get through these challenging times.”
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