Ocean County Legislators Blast Murphy’s Funding of Transgender Website with Pandemic Relief Funds
Question Governor’s Priorities as Funding Schools, Fixing Unemployment System & Replenishing UI Fund Continue to Be Ignored
Senator Jim Holzapfel, Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, and Assemblyman John Catalano (all R-10) questioned Governor Phil Murphy’s use of pandemic relief funds to develop a “Transgender Information Hub” website while other critical needs that could have been funded have been ignored.
“When we have billions in unspent pandemic relief funds that Governor Murphy has failed to put to effective use, it’s shocking that building a transgender website is where he has chosen to spend American Rescue Plan Act money,” said Holzapfel. “He could have helped struggling businesses, prevented cuts to our schools, or fixed the broken unemployment system, but building a transgender website was his priority. It’s ridiculous.”
The governor announced the launch of Transgender.NJ.gov yesterday, a new “one-stop hub” to help the state’s “transgender and non-binary community in finding information about essential programs and services,” including how to change a name.
The new website was paid for with some of the $6.2 billion of pandemic relief funds New Jersey received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP).
“We received more than $6 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds nearly two years ago, but barely any of the money has been spent,” said McGuckin. “More than $5 billion continues to sit idle in state accounts while our schools are being hit with unnecessary budget cuts and New Jersey businesses continue to be hit with round after round of payroll tax increases to replenish the unemployment fund. Instead of funding those urgent needs with pandemic relief funds, paying for a transgender website was Governor Murphy’s misplaced priority.”
According to Governor Murphy’s press announcement, the website was funded as part of the Resident Experience Initiative. The Resident Experience Program received a $40 million appropriation of ARP funds in the current FY 2023 state budget.
“Governor Murphy had billions of relief funds at his disposal throughout the pandemic, but he did next to nothing when one-third of our small businesses were going out of business,” added Catalano. “He did nothing to keep our unemployment fund solvent without harmful tax increases on small businesses, and he has done nothing to prevent years of unnecessary school funding cuts while our teachers are struggling to get students caught up from the devasting impacts of his shutdowns. The critical needs that Governor Murphy has repeatedly ignored say as much about his priorities as things like the transgender website that he has chosen to fund.”