Gov. Phil Murphy strongly dismissed criticism from his predecessor on the handling of the coronavirus pandemic in New Jersey.
Murphy responded at his July 22 press briefing to Chris Christie’s comments that the Murphy Administration prioritized public workers over the state’s small businesses in deciding how to dole out state resources in reaction to the pandemic.
“In the end, this has not been a shared sacrifice,” stated Christie.
The former governor was alluding to the deal the state struck with the Communication Workers of America, the largest union of state workers, postponing a 2% planned wage increase as well as furloughs structured around the federal government’s $600 weekly unemployment supplement.
The former two-term GOP governor believes the state should have provided more money to the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to offer relief to small businesses.
“It’s a policy decision that was made, but you could have shared the sacrifice a little bit more and put more money into the EDA and got those loan programs to be much more robust. These are all decisions,” said Christie. “These don’t happen by accident … believe me, I sat in that job for eight years.”
Murphy applauded the effort Christie and his wife Mary Pat are making toward small businesses, but noted “I wish he had stopped there, frankly.”
“There’s no reason to inject any amount of politics into this. We have strived from day one to make the calls based on the science, on the data, on the facts. Let’s just keep it at that,” said Murphy.
But the evoking of the EDA by Christie clearly got under Murphy’s skin.
EDA Piggy Bank
“Frankly, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry that he’s invoking the EDA… which was a piggy bank for special interests under his leadership, big companies at the absolute expense of small companies,” the first term Democrtaic governor remarked.
“But come on given the train wreck that the EDA was under his leadership, all for the benefit of special interest, at the expense of small businesses, especially how public sector workers were crushed under him,” Murphy said, his voice rising.
“Give me a break.”
$100 Million Commitment
The EDA has committed $100 million to help 20,000 small businesses during the pandemic, half already receiving money, according to the governor, who added “We are in there every single day doing everything we can for small businesses.”
Murphy took exception with the either/or ethos of helping business while at the same time striking a deal with state workers.
“I would also like to know why it’s one or the other, including who thinks that laying off middle-class workers, who are the very folks at the frontlines providing the services that our residents so desperately need,” said Murphy.
“Where is it written, who thinks that laying them off somehow benefits New Jersey’s families? When in fact, the exact opposite is the case?”
Christie has raised close to $800,000 in committed funding for New Jersey 30-Day Fund, a nonprofit that gives $3,000 forgivable loans to small businesses in New Jersey struggling to remain open amid the coronavirus pandemic. The fund has received more than 3,000 applications from small businesses since they launched the nonprofit last month.
Under the NJ 30-Day Fund, businesses need to be New Jersey-based, employ three to 30 people and have been in operation for at least a year to be eligible. The hope is the $3,000 would help businesses stay afloat for 30 days while they wait for other aid, including federal assistance.