Murphy pleads with Republicans in Congress to give states more aid in next coronavirus relief plan

Posted Jul 21, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday once again pleaded with Congress to provide more direct aid to states and local governments across the U.S. that otherwise may have to make deep spending cuts to education, health-care programs, first responders, and more in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

His comments came hours after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell excluded state and local aid from the priorities he said he would include in his version of the next coronavirus stimulus legislation.

Murphy, acting in his role as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, released a statement saying the proposal “leaves states and cities behind.”

“If Congress does not give states the direct relief we need to shore up our budgets, it will do untold damage to our economies and undermine our response to COVID-19,” Murphy said in a statement released by the DGA.

McConnell, R-Ky., listed what he planned to include in the Senate Republican bill in addition to insulating reopening businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits.

“I’ve said we will start with the facts and develop real, targeted solutions on the subjects that matter most to American families,” McConnell said Tuesday. “Well, it turns out that means three things: Kids. Jobs. And health care.”

New Jersey so far has received $2.4 billion in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus law known as the CARES Act. But Murphy has said more is needed, warning of a possible $20 million gap in the next state budget because of massive losses in tax revenue in the wake of business closings.

And he said other states need similar relief as new cases have surged in numerous parts of the U.S. in recent weeks.

“With the virus spreading rapidly across the country, it’s more important than ever that we receive significant direct cash assistance to deal with this unprecedented health and economic crisis,” Murphy said Tuesday.

“Without funding from the federal government, states will be forced to make massive cuts and slash funding for education, health care programs, housing, first responders, and more,” he added. “These cuts will deepen the recession and undermine the very programs that Americans will need to get back on their feet. States are leading in this crisis, but we need the federal government’s help to make sure we can keep the fight up in the coming weeks and months, and we need it now.”

The U.S. House-passed $3 trillion stimulus bill known as the HEROES Act includes $875 billion for state and local governments. The measure also would suspend for two years the Republican tax law’s $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes, a boost to states like New Jersey and New York that were hard hit by the coronavirus.

McConnell has refused to consider the legislation in the Senate and likely won’t have the votes to pass whatever measure he drafts since he needs seven Democrats to cross party lines to bring the bill to the floor for debate.

Murphy has stressed that New Jersey needs a mixture of borrowing, budget cuts, tax increases, and federal aid to help avoid historic layoffs of public workers.

“The brutal reality we face is that cuts simply will not be enough given the storm that is raging around us,” the governor said last week. “We simply can’t cut our way out of this.”

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