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Governor Phil Murphy Missed Chance to Furlough Public Employees Early Saving the State Millions

Phill Murphy -Sara Medina del Castillo

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Senator Michael Testa spoke during the July 2nd, 2020 New Jersey State Senate Remote Voting Session in regards to Governor Phil Murphy’s Conditional Veto of A-4132 and the State Legislatures concurrence with the legislation. Below is his statement:

“The bill we are voting on today started out as a creative idea (two months ago) by people to help solve a very real fiscal crisis.”

“Credit is due. Senate President Sweeney came up with a way to furlough public employees, while having the federal government pay for the costs of unemployment benefits.

Senator Michael Testa on the phone voting during July 2, 2020 New Jersey State Senate Session.

“If it was done right – and at a time when tens of thousands of State employees not on the frontlines were sidelined and unable to work, it would have allowed public employees to continue being paid through a work share program when they couldn’t work anyway.

“It was a complicated proposal, but a very thoughtful one. For the idea to work, it needed the Governor and his people to help. They failed to listen, and they just ignored the idea. And to his credit, our Senate President introduced this legislation to try and push the idea publicly and pressure the governor to act. The legislation received broad bipartisan support. At the time, it was common sense. However, it sat on the Governor’s desk for more than a month.

“With constructive help from the Governor and had the Governor engaged unions early, the proposal could have been made to work months ago. Instead, the Governor ignored this idea, and his communications with public employee unions was relegated to gross pandering.

“He participated in union calls that anyone can listen to by going to the Communications Workers of America(CWA).
He never mentioned the budget challenges facing the State and never even asked for support for work share programs or immediate furloughs. He rightly praised front line state employees like police and institutional workers as heroes. But astonishingly, he also singled out Motor Vehicle Employees and other non front line employees who wouldn’t work for two more months through no fault of their own, for praise as heroes.

“I mean no disrespect to our public employees who were sidelined through no fault of their own by COVID-19. But the Governor talking to state employees who were not frontline responders as though they were and not preparing them for shared sacrifice was nothing short of delusional. It cheapened the focus on praise that should have been heaped onto the real frontline workers and it made implementing workshare or furloughs in a timely manner more difficult.

“This bill with some minor changes two months ago would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars for the State budget. People argue over how much, but it was meaningful. And it was a lot.

“But the bill we have before us today is too little too late. In part, it legalizes furloughs set forth in a weak deal between the Governor and the CWA by doing several things. It waves some civil service impediments to quickly implementing a furlough.

“It allows furloughed employees who are being furloughed through no fault of their own, to keep their health and pension benefits as long they continue paying towards those benefits. Those things were in the original bill.
But at its core, voting for this bill blesses and paves the way for an agreement that the Governor reached with CWA that will achieve virtually meaningless savings… a drop in the bucket compared to where we started. Unemployment benefits for the furlough… instead of fully being paid for by the federal government, will be paid for by state taxpayers.

“And the furlough itself… instead of being done at a time when nonessential public employees couldn’t work anyway… as much as they may have wanted to work… puts them back on the sidelines when they are finally able to work, and there is an enormous amount of backlogged permits, applications, and the public’s business that needs attention.

“This governor is failing. This bill is a perfect example of it. The Senate President and his staff with broad bipartisan support brought him a good idea… two months ago. It was an alternative to borrowing mass amounts of money… or cutting money for veteran burials and agricultural programs that prevent crop destruction by invasive species and disease – two cuts that are being made today by the Governor to save chump change when the original bill we are considering would have saved thousands of times those cuts.

“The Governor needs to hear a message loud and clear. Stop ignoring this fiscal crisis. Stop ignoring the people who are trying to help you and who have good ideas.

“Vote no and send that message. Let’s tell him to wake up and do his job.”

2 thoughts on “Governor Phil Murphy Missed Chance to Furlough Public Employees Early Saving the State Millions

  1. Why would he take his voters off the payroll ?

  2. Furlough employees. That’s a big joke. In the village of Ridgewood where I live the past 48 years on Knickerbocker. There has been furlough in service . Just look at some of the village departments the staffing is down to a bare minimum. How can you Furlough skeleton crews , good luck. And are getting a tax break. We doubt it

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