The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in Republican leaders’ bid to stop Gov. Phil Murphy from borrowing $9.9 billion for the state budget.
Republican lawmakers went to court after the Legislature passed the New Jersey COVID-19 Emergency Bond Act, claiming it violates the state constitution. Murphy wants the ability to borrow money due to pandemic-related revenue shortfalls.
The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey issued a damning statement from its CEO and president, Christina Renna, opposing the bond act:
“No one disputes that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to dire fiscal consequences for New Jersey,” Renna’s statement said. “However, today’s New Jersey Supreme Court hearing shined a glaring spotlight on the unconstitutionality of the state’s $9.9 billion borrowing plan as the primary method to help the state recover from the ongoing crisis and balance the state budget.
“Borrowing money is a serious decision with even more serious consequences for the taxpayers and businesses of New Jersey. No one is claiming New Jersey will not have to borrow some money due to the impact of the pandemic.
“What is being asked is that voters have a voice in the process, that the money borrowed is used to help New Jersey truly recover instead of being used for governmental operating expenses, and that taxpayers are provided a clear picture of the state’s overall fiscal situation before being saddled with nearly $10 billion in new debt, plus decades of interest, which will inevitably resurface in the form of increased taxes for years to come.”
Murphy’s administration has said it hopes to borrow as little money as possible, with the goal of making up for unexpected revenue shortfalls tied to the pandemic as it builds a constitutionally mandated balanced budget.
Oral arguments were heard virtually due to the pandemic.