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.

Cory Booker Wants to Start National Gun Licensing Program, Limit Firearms Purchases
Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker on Monday unveiled a sweeping plan to reduce gun violence that includes establishing a national gun licensing program, limiting individual purchases of firearms to one per month, and placing a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
The Record Read more

Most CPAs Are Telling Clients to Relocate Out of NJ—Here’s How We Can Change That
Certified public accountants often hear objections about New Jersey’s high taxes from clients who are looking to leave New Jersey—and this past tax season was no exception, according to members of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants. And a Rutgers-Eagleton poll done in collaboration with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association serves to underscore why.
ROI-NJ Read more

Legal Bills Top $1M for Murphy Task Force Investigating NJ Corporate Tax Incentive Program
Attorneys for the task force that Gov. Phil Murphy set up to investigate New Jersey’s troubled Economic Development Authority have submitted nearly $1.3 million in invoices for their work, NJ Advance Media has learned.
NJ.com Read more

Sources: Chief of Staff at EDA Suspended
Erin Gold, who has been chief of staff at the embattled New Jersey Economic Development Authority since last July, has been suspended, according to two sources with knowledge of the move.
Politico Read more

Fifty Years After It Began Dumping Poison Sludge in a Poor NJ Mountain Community, Ford Agrees to Spend $21M to Put a Cap on Toxic Sites
There’s a new twist in the long, windy cleanup of one of North Jersey’s most toxic sites, as the feds and state announced a settlement Monday with Ford Motor Company and the Borough of Ringwood to clean up three parts of the Ringwood Mines/Landfill Superfund Site.
NJ.com Read more

Lawyers for Norcross-Linked Companies Say Tax Credit Investigation Is Illegal
An all-star legal team representing several companies with ties to South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross has launched an attack on the task force that says it has found evidence of alleged criminality in New Jersey tax incentive programs.
Politico Read more

On Eve of Primaries, NJ Is at Early Stage of Shoring Up Election Security
With less a month to go before this year’s primary elections, New Jersey officials are continuing to fortify state and county election infrastructure, including the addition of more new voting machines with a verifiable paper trail, to ensure the integrity of elections.
NJSpotlight Read more

New CEO Has Broad Support, but Many Questions Hang Over the Schools Development Authority
When Lizette Delgado-Polanco first faced public backlash over her firing and hiring decisions at the Schools Development Authority, only one of the agency’s executives spoke up in her defense.
Daily Record Read more

Narcan, the Life-Saving Overdose Reversal Drug, Is Scarce in NJ Cities That Need It Most
New Jerseyans living in some of the cities hardest hit by the opioid crisis may find it harder to get lifesaving overdose reversal drugs at their local pharmacies, a new study has found.
Inquirer Read more

Law Firm Releases 300 Names of Catholic Priests and Others Accused of Abuse in NJ
Edward Hanratty doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that four abusive priests wound up at his parish in Ridgefield Park.
The Record Read more

Lakewood Schools Get Peanut the Pony and a $30M Budget Boost
The public school district’s newest hire has a spiky white mane, brown-and-white hair and apparently can’t tell a carrot from a microphone. He made his debut in Lakewood the same night neighboring Toms River Regional voted to cut staff—a real-life example of winners and losers in the state’s approach to school funding and a contrast that doesn’t sit well for some.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Amazon Paying to Train Paterson Teachers in Computer Science
Amazon has agreed to pay for computer science training for teachers at every high school in the city, under an initiative designed to expand students’ opportunities for technology careers.
The Record Read more

Education Commissioner’s Decision Could Affect Ridgewood’s Public Child Care Center
A privately run child care center is challenging Ridgewood’s district-run child care center, saying the district’s center is operating illegally because it has no state license.
The Record Read more

NJ Students Win National Contest Applying Math to Drug Solutions
A team of five students from High Technology High School has taken home the grand prize of $20,000 in college scholarships in a nationwide competition to recommend solutions for substance abuse problems by using mathematical modeling.
NJ101.5 Read more

Judge Orders Jersey City to Pay Kushner Firm $96K After City Loses Records Dispute
A Hudson County Superior Court judge last week ordered Jersey City to pay $95,850 to lawyers for Kushner Companies after the developers won a records dispute with the city in December.
NJ.com Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Catches Heat for Targeting Firefighter Fund