NJ State Budget Protects French Arts Museum

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo

The Senate this afternoon passed the state budget, a whopper that weighed in at an all-time record $54.3 billion and contained at least one glaring cultural third rail for an utterly irritated and morally fed-up Republican Party.

The vote was 25-12.

Snafued in his efforts to derail the budget, retiring Senate Republican Leader Steve Oroho (R-24) expressed disappointment.

“We had ourselves a very unique situation. In that Path to Progress Report we said we need to have reforms,” said Oroho, alluding to the plan he championed with former Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3). “That big bill is coming each and every year. We didn’t take the opportunity to fix structurally many of the things we could have fixed.”

All the Republican leaders criticized the budget unveiled by Governor Phil Murphy.

“I want to express my profound disappointment about how many schools are underfunded in the budget,” said Senator Doug Steinhardt (R-23).

“There are almost 400 special line items in this budget that have never been explained,” complained state Senator Mike Testa.

That French Arts Museum in Jersey City slated for money ($24 million in the budget) proved an especially juicy GOP target.

French.

Arts.

Museum.

Those are three words you never want to put together in a sentence around a pragmatic Republican in budget chopping block mode.

“Barbarian Red Meat Barbecue Pit” might have a better shot at obtaining support.

“He [Murphy] refused to identify who asked for the money,” Testa said, in reference to the French Arts Museum and other line items. “Rushing through a $54.3 billion budget, without even having a budget document, is not the way this should be done.”

Incidentally, the Vineland-based Republican added, he and his colleagues on the budget committee actually received a budget memo in the amount of $53 billion.

“The actual budget is a full billion dollars bigger than the budget we were given,” Testa said.

Democrats kept their heads down.

No debate punctuated the chamber as it did in the Assembly.

Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36), 14-year chair of the Budget Committee, saw fit to make a single statement (printed in full here).

“We can go line item by line item – there are many items I would not include,” he said. “But let’s not omit the fact that this budget includes investments … that improve the quality of life for our New Jersey residents.”

The budget process problems amounted to technical glitches, not moral failings, the Bergen Democrat insisted.

For more on the budget, please go here.

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