Op-Ed: The Jersey Taxpayer’s Guide to Governor Murphy’s Barn-Burner State Budget

With the early springtime weather comes budget season in Trenton, which means another year of elected Democrats rubber-stamping runaway spending and tax hikes in the Garden State. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I have been fighting Governor Murphy’s spending binge even before I flipped the First District state senate seat in 2019, and I’m leading the charge against Murphy’s runaway spending now.

With his new budget announced, I’d like to give you a look into the process: how Governor Murphy is burning piles of money, including give-aways that would make most working New Jerseyans’ jaws drop — and how we can fight it.

Among countless expensive line-items, Governor Murphy’s budget includes a needless $300 million give-away to Rutgers University athletics — an average cost to New Jersey households of two tickets to a Scarlet Knights game.

But big-dollar giveaways for growing academic bureaucracies aren’t the only cost New Jersey households will have to pay if Murphy’s budget is passed; the Governor proposes massive give-aways to criminals as well. Murphy and state Democrats propose handing over $120 million in taxpayer funds to the so-called “Excluded New Jerseyans Fund,” granting up to $4,000 in cash to illegal immigrants and convicted felons leaving prisonl. What would your household do with that kind of money?

The budget also includes a blank check for new “equity” programs, which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, including one to provide Medicaid benefits to the families of illegal immigrants, and another $6 million to extend welfare to drug dealers. In New Jersey, “Murphy’s Law” seems to be: cash give-aways for criminals and rule-breakers, subsidized by law-abiding taxpayers. 

Those of us who have been paying attention know that this latest spending binge has been Phil Murphy’s motto all along: spend, spend, spend. This and other ridiculous programs represent months of groceries or gas for you and your family — going to drug dealers and illegal immigrants instead.

Some in New Jersey have accepted this new normal of record-breaking budgets and back-breaking tax burdens. Remember, we were told by Gov. Murphy in 2021 that “if taxes are your issue, then New Jersey’s probably not your state.” 

But while today’s proposed state budget teeters at $50.6 billion, as recently as 2017 the budget was as low as $34.8 billion under the leadership of Republican Gov. Chris Christie. That’s nearly a fifty percent increase in just six years, not counting the state’s obligation on nearly five billion dollars borrowed to respond to Covid-19, nearly five times as much as Illinois, our nation’s financial basket case. Blowing the Land of Lincoln out of the water in financial mismanagement is not the type of record we want to be breaking. 

This level of spending means money for mortgage payments, for your kids’ schooling, or for your parents’ medicine taken from your pockets. This debt will continue to cost us far after Gov. Murphy leaves the Governor’s mansion.

Fighting this abuse of taxpayers is why I ran for office in the first place, and it’s what drives me to fight for my constituents and our state. The people I represent want to stay here, but increasingly, they simply can’t afford to.

Spend, spend, spend — all in the name of “stronger and fairer,” while those not in Gov. Murphy’s club get weaker and poorer. Working New Jersey families care about taxes, spending, and runaway inflation that has yet to slow down enough for us to take a breath. With state and federal spending reaching new heights, and with no signs of stopping, we need to stop and think of the future before inflation prices more people out of the American Dream. 

Do we really want to live in a New Jersey where only the wealthy elite like Gov. Murphy can thrive, and working people in the middle are forced to subsidize drug dealers and people here illegally? 

Of course we don’t. That’s why I’m out there leading the fight against this year’s budget — and it’s why you should join me and get involved as well. Republicans in the state legislature can’t do it alone. Assembly and senate elections are this year, meaning now is the time for New Jersey residents to get engaged, check their voter registration status, and tell Governor Murphy and the Trenton Democrats that enough is enough. It could start, simply, by sharing this piece with your friends and neighbors. 

Let’s restore sanity to our state, and build something that we’re proud to hand over to our children. Join me in fighting for New Jersey’s future — let’s start here.


Senator Michael L. Testa, Jr. is a State Senator representing New Jersey’s First Legislative District which includes Atlantic, Cape May, & Cumberland Counties. He is a dad, husband, and leader in fighting for the needs of New Jersey’s working families. 

Michael Testa
About Michael Testa 10 Articles
MICHAEL TESTA serves New Jersey's 1st Legislative District - all of Cape May County and parts of Atlantic and Cumberland counties - in the State Senate.