Gov. Phil Murphy Prods New Jersey Senate to Move on Borrowing Bill

Gov. Phil Murphy called out the State Senate, pushing them to move on a borrowing bill that has languished in the upper chamber for three months.

“It is well past time to secure the funding that is threatening our ability to have in place the programs and safeguards our residents and our communities desperately need to recover from this emergency and get back to work,” said Murphy at a press briefing July 8. 

The governor is seeking the ability to borrow at historically low rates along with federal funding to fill budget holes that have resulted from the  COVID-19 crisis. The Assembly has already passed a measure to allow for bonding. 

Clock Ticking

Timing is an issue as the state might not be able to secure the emergency infusion of cash to keep New Jersey state afloat, according to Murphy. 

“September is coming quickly and if there’s no action soon, and I mean in a matter of days, we will miss our opportunity,” he said. “ It will still take many weeks, I think as much as 12 weeks, for us to get to the point where we’ll have the money we need to keep the state running. We’re already cutting it way, way too close.”

The first-term Democtatic governor painted a grim picture if bonding authority is not passed, with cuts to first responders, education and social services in the next budget. 

Further Cuts?

“Law enforcement, public education, public health workers, property tax relief for middle-class families and seniors, tuition assistance for our next generation, all of it and a lot more will be on the chopping block and likely gone,” said Murphy.

The governor noted his administration has already offered cuts and negotiated hundreds of millions of dollars in savings with our labor partners. But to make further cuts in the next budget to fix a multi-billion dollar hole would set our New Jersey well back on its heels “at a time when we need to be leaning forward into a recovery.”

Murphy said an example of where the money would help is with GOP Assemblyman Jon Bramnick’s bill to have the state reimburse restaurant owners for costs that came from the abruptly delayed restart of indoor dining

Helping Businesses

“Where’s the money coming from?” asked Murphy. “There’s no amount of money that any state has right now to be able to do what the small business community writ large needs in our state, especially the hospitality piece.”

“I completely have complete empathy and I completely support the notion, but we have to have a source of money that can back up that notion.”

Murphy closed by stating all he cared about was making New Jersey the state where everyone can thrive, not who the political winners or losers were. 

“I know how Trenton works —or in many cases, doesn’t work— in normal times,” he said. “These are not normal times. I cannot allow politics to deny our state the resources that we need to provide real relief for millions of our families.” 

“The Senate has had this bill for three months. Let’s get this done.”

Daily Data

As of July 9, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 174,270 with 354 new cases and 28 new deaths, bringing that total to 13,501. The state increased the probable death count to 1,947, bringing the overall total to 15,448.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of July 4 was reported at 3.2%. Officials believe the rate, up from 2.1% on July 3, is a result of limited testing on the holiday. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. By region, the north tested at 3.4%, the central at 2.9% and the south 3.3%. 

Officials reported 963 patients are hospitalized with or are under investigation for having coronavirus while 92 patients were discharged. The north tier had 422 patients hospitalized, the central 294 and the south 247.

Of those hospitalized, 170 are in intensive care units and 104 on ventilators. 

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 20% Hispanic, 18% Black, 6% Asian and 2% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state. 

In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 57% had cardiovascular disease, 45% diabetes, 32% other chronic diseases, 18% neurological conditions, 17% lung diseases, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.

A census of ages for confirmed deaths shows 47% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 33% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49. 

State officials are tracking cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children who in turn  test positive for COVID-19. No new cases were reported July 8, leaving the total at 51 for children ranging in age from 1-18. All have tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies in their blood. Nine are currently hospitalized. No deaths have been reported from the disease. 

Persichilli stated “Black and Hispanic children account for a disproportionately high number” on a national scale. While only a small sample, Persichilli reported the racial breakdown in New Jersey was 39% Hispanic, 34% Black, 16% White, 7% Asian and 5% other.

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