(The Center Square) – Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation to delay his budget message for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
The measure, A-2063/S-1414, changes this year’s deadline for the message to New Jersey lawmakers from the fourth Tuesday in February to March 8. The change should allow the governor, a Democrat, the opportunity to deliver the message in person.
A bill statement indicates lawmakers have granted extensions previously. However, New Jersey Republicans objected to changing the date, decrying the move as politically motivated and unnecessary.
“The budget message isn’t merely ceremonial in nature, it starts the budget process and the budget process is a very defined timeline,” Assemblyman Brian Bergen, R-Morris, said in a statement. “The last session, the majority party had the full amount of time between the budget message and the budget deadline and you barely got it done.
“Every time this legislative body comes to a crossroads, where you can [choose] between transparency, good government, open public input, lengthy discussion and debate with the intent of getting to the best possible solution the first time, or opaqueness, backroom deals, and a rushed legislative process, you always make the wrong choice,” Bergen added. “Hold the governor accountable for once. Make the governor do what he’s supposed to do.”
A spokesperson for Murphy said the delay has to do with the logistics surrounding an in-person delivery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Governor hopes to be able to deliver the budget address safely in-person,” Alyana Alfaro Post, Murphy’s press secretary, told The Center Square. “By requesting a two-week extension, we are hoping that case numbers will allow the address to be delivered in the Chamber for the first time in two years.”