NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Catches Heat for Targeting Firefighter Fund

Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy.

Gov. Phil Murphy. ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

You don’t kick puppies. You always kiss babies. And you don’t diss the volunteers who fight New Jersey’s fires. Gov. Phil Murphy doesn’t seem to have learned at least one of these basic lesson of politics.

The governor has not only approved dipping into funds normally used to help the state’s volunteer firefighters and their families in order to plug holes in the state budget, he’s also saying the move was the “sensible” thing to do, according to a report by NJ101.5.

Murphy, who has pledged to work for a “stronger” and “fairer” state, said the aid program, set up more than 100 years ago to provide funeral and medical expenses for volunteers, is overfunded. He wants to cut into the $33 million that goes to the fund to help pay for other items on his progressive agenda.

The diversion of funds came to light this weekend with a report by NJ.com. When confronted by pushback on Monday, Murphy said the program has six times the amount of money it needs, and that diverting state money is the “sensible, reasonable thing to do,” according to NJ101.5.

Ed Donnelly, the president of the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, said the fund shouldn’t be penalized because its caretakers have been careful with their money.

Murphy contends he has always respected firefighters, telling the radio station they “deserve the respect, they deserve the honor.” But still, Murphy made it clear that the $33 million in state funds could be more useful elsewhere, saying, “folks need to understand this fund has a fund balance six times the amount that it needs,” according to NJ101.5.

Quote of the Day: “Our position is quite simple. You will not take the $33 million to fill a budget hole on the backs of sick and indigent firefighters,” — Ed Donnelly, the president of the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association.

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