Murphy says he’s magically found savings… mere days after raising taxes?

Murphy says he’s magically found savings… mere days after raising taxes?

Elizabeth Muoio (left) with Phil Murphy.
via Facebook

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey will spend $3.4 billion on health benefits this year.

On Thursday, the Murphy Administration announced that it could save about 3% of that amount — $100 million — which is considerably less than the $1.4 billion pitched by former Governor Chris Christie’s bipartisan commission. 

That discrepancy is concerning enough.

The timing is strange, too. New Jersey just went through a near-government shutdown over the state budget; the final product includes historic tax increases (click here for the details). Why didn’t any of this come up a few weeks ago? Or did they? When it could’ve saved taxpayers some significant scratch? 

Tom Kean Jr., the top Republican in the state Senate, said Murphy and his treasurer, Elizabeth Muoio, have some explaining to do.

“Treasurer Muoio and Governor Murphy owe New Jersey taxpayers an explanation as to how or if these healthcare savings could have been factored into the State budget, which increased State spending by 5.4 percent.  If these initiatives had been enacted, maybe these new, onerous tax increases could have been avoided,” Kean said. “While I’m happy to see some action, these reforms are not nearly enough. We need comprehensive public employee benefit reform in order to deliver real relief to property taxpayers across New Jersey.”

Christie, for his part, had seen his calls for deeper state worker health benefits cuts die on the vine due to his greatly diminished political capital and public popularity late in his final term.