Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-21) delivered the following remarks during the New Jersey Senate’s debate on the FY 2022 State Budget:
As a result of the many impacts of the pandemic over the past 15 months, there are a great many needs that this budget should address to help New Jersey recover and come back stronger.
Remarks from Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean during the New Jersey Senate’s debate on the FY 2022 State Budget. (SenateNJ.com)
We know of students who have experienced significant learning loss due to closed schools and the challenges of remote learning, yet hundreds of districts across the state are still set to have their funding cut under this spending plan.
We know of the unemployed workers who couldn’t get their claims approved and we remember the long lines that plagued drivers at the MVC.
And still, this budget includes very little of the funding that is needed to fix the old systems that are at the root of many of these problems.
We know that our nonprofits have gone above and beyond to support communities in need, and those organizations are now struggling under the strain.
Yet this budget does not allow for a charitable deduction to bolster their efforts.
We know that more than one-third of our small businesses closed forever during the pandemic and many more are struggling to recover.
It’s still not clear if they’ll survive.
So it’s unbelievable that this Legislature and Governor Murphy would turn their backs on our small businesses at the worst possible time.
A payroll tax increase that we can prevent is set to hit employers just one week from today, but this budget does nothing about it.
That’s absolutely unconscionable. For the record, it did not have to be this way.
Republicans offered a comprehensive plan to address these important issues and many others.
We made our plan public weeks ago and we urged our colleagues to work with us to address these challenges together.
We called for public discussions and public hearings and an opportunity for the public to weigh in.
Unfortunately, that never happened.
This budget was decided in private by Governor Murphy and a handful of others.
Republicans — and even many Democrats — didn’t have a say. The public didn’t have a say either.
This budget bill was introduced and voted out of committee just minutes after a draft was made public on Tuesday.
Regardless of the other hearings that happened weeks and months ago, nobody can honestly claim that what was discussed prior to this week looked like the budget that is under consideration today.
If the plan changes, if the resources available change, everyone deserves a real opportunity to review and comment.
That goes for both legislators and the public.
As we witnessed this week, that never was allowed to happen.
I’m really disappointed that partisan politics have superseded the understanding we all had at the beginning of the pandemic that all of us needed to work together.
It wasn’t very long ago that we understood that we were facing one of the great challenges of our lifetimes and that being a Republican or being a Democrat was less important than our responsibility to serve every New Jerseyan.
Sadly, that appears to be a distant memory, but it shouldn’t be.
Every New Jerseyan deserves to have these important problems addressed.
Every New Jerseyan deserves to have an open and transparent government.
We must do better as a Legislature, and we must do better than this budget.