Unhappy with budget, Murphy puts $235 million on hold

Less than a week after signing a $38.7 billion budget into law,  Governor Philip Murphy on Sunday signed Executive Order No. 73, which authorized the Office of Management and Budget to freeze appropriations to balance the state budget while maintaining a surplus of $875 million plus a Rainy Day Fund deposit of $401 million.

“As directed by the Governor, we have compiled a list of appropriation items that have been placed in reserve until further notice,” said David Ridolfino, acting director of OMB. “As noted in the Executive Order, the items placed in reserve will help the state maintain the surplus goals outlined by the Governor. Our review, pursuant to Executive Order 73, is ongoing and will continue as new or additional information regarding individual items of appropriation is available.”

The executive order was deemed necessary after the budget passed by the Legislature included up to $235 million in questionable savings items the administration identified as not likely to materialize, as well as initiatives the Legislature added but failed to adequately fund.

The order laid out the following criteria for identifying spending items to be placed into reserve, including, but not limited to: 

  • the amount of the item of appropriation;
  • the likely statewide or localized impact of the item;
  • the history of state support for the item;
  • the timing during the fiscal year of any payment(s) in support of the item; and
  • the ability to delay payment until later in the fiscal year while monitoring overall budget performance.

The Governor’s order stipulated that the entire budget was subject to cuts except for items supporting current state-administered programs, services, and benefit levels, that relate to the health, safety, or welfare of residents.

After weighing all of these factors, the OMB placed $235 million in 64 line items in reserve. A full list of those items is included below and a copy of the Director’s letter is attached.

(in 000’s)
AgricultureHunters Helping the Hungry$100
AgricultureJersey Fresh$100
AgricultureNJ Hemp Farming Fund$500
Community AffairsBelleville Twp Recreation Program$125
Community AffairsBergen Family Center Teen Center$120
Community AffairsBergenfield Borough Pedestrian Safety Improvements$50
Community AffairsEast Brunswick Senior Center$750
Community AffairsEwing Twp Roadway Improvements$1,000
Community AffairsFair Lawn Borough Pedestrian Safety Improvements$50
Community AffairsFranklin Twp Stream Restoration$1,100
Community AffairsHamilton Twp (Mercer) Fire District Consolidation (PTRF)$2,000
Community AffairsInternational Youth Organization$100
Community AffairsIrvington Twp Camp Irvington Repair and Redevelopment$3,000
Community AffairsLittle Ferry Borough Traffic Study$50
Community AffairsMorris Canal Park, Jersey City$250
Community AffairsNew Jersey Re-Entry Corporation$1,000
Community AffairsNJ Hall of Fame Foundation$2,500
Community AffairsNJSHARES S.M.A.R.T. Program$1,000
Community AffairsPerth Amboy Green Infrastructure$250
Community AffairsSayreville Borough – Bailey Park Improvements$500
Community AffairsSouth Amboy Intermodal Transit Village$1,000
Community AffairsTransitional Aid to Localities (PTRF)$104,825
Community AffairsTurtle Back Zoo$4,000
Community AffairsVolunteers of America – Re-Entry Services$1,000
CorrectionsEssex County Recidivism Pilot Program$6,000
CorrectionsEssex County-County Jail Substance Use Disorder Programs (PTRF)$20,000
CorrectionsUnion County Inmate Rehabilitation Services (PTRF)$3,500
EducationGovernor’s Literacy Initiative$125
Environmental ProtectionGrants for Urban Parks (PTRF)$4,000
HealthHoly Name Hospital, Teaneck – Palliative Care Pilot Program$3,000
HealthNorth Jersey Community Research Initiative$75
HealthSouth Jersey Cancer Program – Camden (Cooper)$15,400
Human ServicesNew Jersey Elder Index$200
Human ServicesSNAP Administration (PTRF) – Essex County$7,000
Law and Public SafetyEssex Crime Prevention (PTRF)$3,000
LegislatureBroadcast Technology Improvements$350
LegislatureThe Council of State Governments$200
StateBattleship NJ Museum$1,000
StateCarteret Arts Center$1,000
StateCollege Bound$800
StateCooper Medical School of Rowan University$7,000
StateCREATE – Rowan University$2,000
StateHistoric New Bridge Landing Park Commission$100
StateLong Branch Historical Museum – Chapel Restoration$250
StateMontclair State University – General Operations$7,503
StateNJ Agricultural Experiment Station$3,000
StateNJ Civic Information Consortium$1,000
StateNJ Historic Commission – Celebration of America$300
StateNJCU – Fort Monmouth Campus$1,000
StateRamapo College – General Operations$1,000
StateRowan/Cooper Medical School Operations Support$5,000
StateRutgers Equine Science Center Operating Support$95
StateRutgers New Brunswick School of Engineering – Equipment$2,500
StateRutgers University – Camden-Mental Health and Well Being$170
StateRutgers/Rowan Joint Board RU Camden Business School$3,000
StateStockton University – General Operations$4,612
StateThe College of NJ – General Operations$1,000
StateThomas Edison University – General Operations$1,000
TransportationBrown Ave/Rt 206, Hillsboro – Large Truck Bypass$500
TransportationI-287 Access Ramps from Rt 27 Final Design Costs$450
TransportationRestoration of East Orange Train Stations$1,000
TransportationRt 440, Bayonne – Pedestrian Safety Improvements$250
TransportationRt 46/Rt 93 Intersection, Ridgefield – Traffic Study$250
TreasuryAid to Independent Colleges and Universities$1,000

Pursuant to the order, the state Treasurer will monitor whether savings initiatives identified as at risk of non-achievement have actually materialized, and take into consideration monthly revenue collections and other factors, in order to ensure that the estimated Fiscal Year 2020 undesignated fund balance, plus the balance in the Rainy Day Fund, total at least $1.276 billion when added together.

The Treasurer and the OMB Director are authorized to place additional appropriation items in reserve throughout the fiscal year as long as the conditions that necessitate the EO persist.

If amounts in excess of the targeted fund balance are available for expenditure, the appropriations may be released from reserve.

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