TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey’s Democrat-controlled Assembly passed an unconstitutional borrowing plan on Thursday, one which is expected to increase state taxpayers’ burden for years to come.
Shortly after the vote, Republican leaders held a Zoom press conference to annouce their intention to sue the Murphy Administration over the proposal.
“Today, NJ Dems picked a side,” NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt told media in attendence. “Where they chose big borrowing and big government, the NJGOP and Senate and Assembly Reps choose the little guy, the middle class, hardworking families across NJ, small business owners and 1.2M unemployed New Jerseyans, all whom Governor Murphy has ignored in pursuit of his progressive principals, but none of whom – except maybe him – can afford the price tag that comes with them.”
Steinhardt was joined by Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick and state Senator Steven Oroho. The complaint itself is still being prepared.
2021 GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli – who may face a primary challenge from Steinhardt – has previously declared his own intention to sue the Governor over new borrowing. Steinhardt is also pursuing a separate lawsuit which has already been filed seeking to challenge the Governor’s arbitrary closure of state businesses.
Similar lawsuits have succeeded in the past. In a 2004 4-1 holding, the N.J. Supreme Court held that “borrowed monies, which themselves are a form of expenditure when repaid, are not income pertaining to general costs without violating the Appropriations Clause.”
New Jersey’s state constitution requires a balanced budget unlike the U.S. Constitution. Then-Governor James McGreevey, a Democrat, and the legislature had passed a budget which relied on $2 billion in borrowed money; the High Court said that wasn’t permissible.
Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) won a similar lawsuit just one year later against then-Acting Gov. Dick Codey, also a Democrat.