Morris County state senator says he’ll boycott Phil Murphy’s Rutgers stadium budget speech

TRENTON, NJ. – There will be one less legislator at the upcoming sepcial gubernatorial budget address which, purportedly due to concerns over COVID-19, is scheduled to be held at Rutgers University’s 52,000-person capacity SHI Stadium on Tuesday.

“District office phones continue to ring off the hook with calls from people who are struggling during the state lockdown,” said state Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) on Saturday. “Parents are concerned their children cannot attend school, businesses are failing because of the Governor’s arbitrary lockdowns, and there are long DMV lines. Many have been waiting months for unemployment benefits, and loved ones want answers about the deaths of 7,000 residents in long-term facilities.

“Holding the address in Rutgers Stadium is nothing more than campaign-style theater. There is no science except political science supporting this costly waste of resources intended to maximize the Governor’s television coverage and minimize interaction with the elected representatives of New Jersey workers, business owners, families and taxpayers,” added Pennacchio.

The long-time Morris County Republican official also questioned the necessity of the address.

“The Governor already held a budget address in the People’s House in February. My legislative colleagues and I were there,” said Pennacchio. “The current budget received a three-month extension with no additional ‘budget address’ necessary. The Governor has chosen a performance on the grand stage over the best interests of the people of New Jersey who are desperate for reforms to make living in New Jersey more affordable,” Pennacchio continued. “I question this silly political showcase. I do not believe legislators should be used as political props.”

Murphy initially pitched a $40.9 billion spending proposal but, after COVID-19 hit, the budget deadline was extended from July 1st to October 1st. Fresh off of a N.J. Supreme Court victory for a $10 billion “emergency” borrowing measure approved by the Democrat legislature, the Governor also continues to clamor for a federal bailout. Notwithstanding gubernatorial pressure, the latest state revenue figures show a smaller-than-anticipated shortfall which raises questions as to whether emergency funds are even needed at the present time.