MORRIS COUNTY — Thirty-three million dollars that should be going to firefighters and their families facing tragedy or financial hardship is being diverted for Gov. Phil Murphy’s FY2020 budget needs. The proposal, which is one sentence buried on page 552 of Murphy’s 592-page budget plan, was blasted by Assembly Conference Leader Anthony M. Bucco today.
“Gov. Murphy vowed against raiding the clean energy, unemployment compensation, and affordable housing funds to plug budget holes, but he’s willing to take money away from firefighters who put their lives on the line to protect our citizens,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “He doesn’t have his priorities straight. It’s a disgrace that the governor would fund his agenda on the backs of firefighters.”
The money from the relief fund, known as the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association, goes to paying for expenses like burials for fallen firefighters, the educational needs of their widows and surviving children, and costly medical bills. The NJSFA is funded through a two percent tax levied on fire insurance premiums written by out-of-state insurers for New Jersey properties.
“This money is not a reserve to fix our state’s budget problems. This will be a one-shot revenue of $33 million,” said Bucco. “If Murphy is willing to target needy firemen and their families, who will he hit up next year?”
Bucco requested an opinion from the Office of Legislative Services on Murphy’s ability to divert these funds from a dedicated account and, if necessary, plans to stop it by introducing legislation.