After information leaked out during a Senate budget hearing last week that the New Jersey was in receipt of $6.3 billion in American Rescue Plan funding from the federal government, Senator Joe Pennacchio challenged the Legislature to ensure the money is properly utilized.
New Jersey received more than $6 billion in American Rescue Plan funding from the federal government, and Senator Joe Pennacchio challenged the Legislature to ensure the money is properly utilized. (Pixabay)
“When the state was spending CARES ACT money from Washington, we saw a disconcerting lack of accountability and transparency from Administration. We don’t want to repeat that with $6 billion more,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “The lack of accountability from the Administration makes it crystal clear that Murphy should not be entrusted with the unilateral authority to spend the disaster aid as the current budget language allows.”
State Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio made the admission under questioning during her revenue update to the budget committee on Thursday.
“In a meeting with the Senators in charge of the budget from both sides of the aisle, you’d think a $6 billion windfall would be the first thing she said to them,” said Pennacchio. “Unbelievably, it only came up under questioning. Are they hiding something?
“That demonstrates exactly why I have been demanding for over a year now the formation of a Senate Select Committee with subpoena powers to answer all questions involving the Murphy Administration’s handling of the pandemic and the loss of 10,000 lives in veterans and nursing homes,” continued Pennacchio. “The Administration has been anything but forthcoming with information and they need to answer some tough questions.”
Pennacchio added that he strongly supports legislation (S-3712) sponsored by Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee that would eliminate the State budget language granting the executive branch the unilateral authority to appropriate any “emergency disaster aid” and “economic stimulus” funds the State receives from the federal government during the fiscal year.
The bill would strip the language from the current FY2021 budget.
“This has been a long, brutal year for New Jersey residents and businesses, and they are suffering,” Pennacchio said. “We only have one chance to spend those taxpayer dollars. Let’s make sure we get it right. The Legislature’s must play a role in decisions about where and how the federal money is expended to provide the most benefit. Murphy shouldn’t be calling the shots on his own.”
In addition, Pennacchio is a prime sponsor of SCR-117 that would limit the effective period of emergency orders issued by a Governor to 14 days. Multiple attempts by the Senate Republicans to move this resolution on the floor have been tabled by the majority Democrats.