Home of the Whopper: NJ Assembly Approves $54.3 Billion Budget

Assemblyman Hal Wirths

Operating with a sense of deadline-shadowed urgency on the last day of the season, Assembly Democrats this afternoon passed the $54.3 billion 2024 State Budget, running over the protests of minority Republicans, who bemoaned a lack of transparency, ballooned spending, and a bulging rainy day fund, all cast in the name of “the good.”

The vote was 51-27.

Assemblywoman Pintor Marin

A budget that reflects the diverse needs and priorities of our state,” explained Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29), chair of the Budget Committee, in reference to the document, noting in particular her pride over priorities, including tax relief for NJ residents contained in the ANCHOR Boost, and the child tax credit. “Taken as a whole, this reflects our commitment to a fairer and more prosperous state.”

Retiring Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-24) – the ranking Republican member of the Budget Committee (pictured, top) – panned the budget. “Twenty billion bigger than when the last governor left office,” said an aghast Wirths, who also cited numerous OLS changes. “I think that we’re voting on a different budget than was approved by the budget committee.”

“It’s the same bill,” Pintor Marin corrected. “It is the budget.”

Just the same, “I urge my colleagues to vote no on this budget. The spending is unsustainable,” advised Wirths. “There’s no reason to spend this kind of money. There could be more of this returned to the taxpayers. I’d like to see the money go out now for immediate tax relief.”

Assemblyman Chris DePhillips (R-40) likewise expressed dismay. “Fifty-four billion dollars? Really? When I was first elected the budget was $34 billion. There are no fiscal controls, just an addiction to more and more spending.”

“A fiscal time bomb,” said Assemblyman Gary Scharfenberger (R-13), who cited cuts to school district spending in the state budget, which will boomerang in local taxes.

Democrats pushed back, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35) among them.

But Republicans did most of the talking, including Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-21), who


decried a $2.7 billion structural deficit, and the budget prioritization of baseball fields over hospitals. “We should be doing a better job,” she said. “I can’t say who disappointed I am that University Hospital didn’t get more money. The City of Newark deserves more respect.”

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35) stuck up for the bill.

“I’m excited about this budget,” she said. “I do think care was given throughout the countless hours of meetings to hear what the concerns were from the southernmost tip to the northernmost tip of this state.”

It volleyed back and forth like that for a while.

Assemblyman Brian Rumpf (R-9) complained about the more than one billion dollars in the budget since the governor’s budget address, without explanation.

“Christmas Tree items,” said Rumpf. “We’re setting a new record today, a new record for budget deficits – $2.7 billion deficit in the current budget, more than one billion than the worst of the Corzine years.”

Brian Bergen

Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-26) said the budget might as well have stayed home.

“This budget was prepared by the governor, behind closed doors. When the budget was finally given, nobody got a chance to read it,” Bergen said.

“It is a sad day,” he added. “It’s disgusting. This is the most egregious insult to transparency since I have been a member of the State Legislature. A $2.7 billion deficit. It’s easy for you to say, ‘We’ll give you whatever you want.’ It’s much more difficult to deliver on those promises. You’re going to have to raise taxes to pay for this stuff. There is no other option. It is a fact that the governor is $20 billion higher than the last administration. I am ashamed to be sitting here with you, voting on a budget done in this manner.”

Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-31) made a case for the budget.

“Historic investments and the pinnacle of fiscal responsibilities,” he said. “Eleven credit


downgrades. This year’s budget includes a $10.2 billion surplus, which protects us against future economic downturns. Two million New Jerseyans saw property tax relief as a consequence of ANCHOR. This year, today we have an opportunity to build on that, with a full pension payment, for a third consecutive year.”

“That $10 billion should go back to the people who gave it to us,” Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-39) shot back.

Bergen chastised Mukherji.

“You’re on the budget committee and you don’t know what’s in the bill,” said the Morris Republican. “It’s not a $10 billion surplus, those are old numbers. It’s $8.73 billion.”

Mukherji again rose.

“My math was right, I was including the debt defeasance,” he said. “I am aware of the current numbers.”

Assemblyman McKeon



Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) got into the act.

“If you have a surplus this large, give it back. Keep a rainy-day fund, that’s fine. Not 20 percent. That’s wrong. That’s immoral.” He decried numerous spending items: a dominoes club, a yacht dock, etc. “This budget isn’t responsible in big ways or in little ways.”

Then Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) stepped into the fracas.

“The last administration ran the place on debt,” said the Essex Democrat. “The surplus is eight billion. The national average is 24 percent. It’s fiscally prudent for the first time.”

Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio (R-23) said he didn’t intend to speak, but he couldn’t restrain himself. “We didn’t do anything to address the local property taxpayer,” he said.

Assemblyman John DiMaio
Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio
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4 responses to “Home of the Whopper: NJ Assembly Approves $54.3 Billion Budget”

  1. A $54 Billion Dollar budget. Pathetic. We have a bunch of corrupt politicians running NJ. What else is there to say.

  2. Democrats keep calling their wasteful spending “Investments’. They are not investment, they are spending that drives up taxes. Investment pay a dividend – what is the dividend NJ Taxpayers get from the state’s “Investments” in Dominoes in Bergenfield?

  3. Very true. Government does not invest in anything. All government money comes from tax payers, with no return on investment or dividends.
    These politicians are all fake, phony frauds.

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