State Watch

New Jersey governor warns of educator, health-care worker layoffs without federal aid

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) warned Sunday that his state will have to lay off front-line workers amid the coronavirus pandemic if the federal government does not approve additional funding for states. 

“We announced a budget on Friday for the next four months and we had it cut or defer over $5 billion of expenditures, and this includes potentially laying off educators, firefighters, police, EMS, health-care workers. This is not abstract, this is real,” Murphy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Murphy also dismissed criticism from some Republicans who say a call for federal funding by governors is some form of a bailout for “blue states” that have mismanaged budgets. 

“It’s not a blue state issue, it’s an American issue. It’s not a legacy, ‘You guys didn’t manage yourself in the past better,’ that has nothing to do with this,” he said. “This is about keeping those front-line workers in their jobs, doing the heroic work they’re doing at our hour of need in the biggest health-care crisis in the history of our country, the biggest economic crisis in the history of our country, the last thing we need to do is to lay any of those folks off and increase the unemployment rate and underserved our residents.”

Earlier on “State of the Union,” White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the Trump administration has yet to decide on additional funding for states as part of coronavirus response efforts. 

“I thought Kevin was reasonable, but on this one I have to say … ‘time out.’ This is not abstract, we don’t need to do a data crunch, we don’t need to do an analysis,” Murphy responded. 

He also said that he hasn’t “taken cues ever” from Republican Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), and “won’t start now.” 

Scott is one of many Republican senators opposed to granting additional federal funding to states in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Scott claimed that “a lot of these individuals,” calling out specifically New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), didn’t balance budgets for years. 

“He doesn’t want to cut anything, he’s involved in every liberal thing there is, and then he wants Florida taxpayers to bail him out,” Scott said on “State of the Union.” 

Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, told The Hill Scott’s comments are “more baloney than an Oscar Mayer plant.” 

“New York has been Washington’s favorite ATM, sending $29 billion a year more than it gets back while Florida receives $30 billion more than it pays. I’d say give us our money back and we’ll call it even, but since Florida’s budget grew 82 percent over the last decade, they probably wouldn’t go for it,” Azzopardi said in a statement. “The federal government needs to act, and they need to pass legislation to help the state and local governments hit by this pandemic.” 

CNN’s Dana Bash pointed out that Florida receives more money from the federal government than it gives, whereas New York gives more than it gets. 

Scott responded that New York has “never sent a dime,” pointing to taxpayer dollars from its citizens. 

Bash then noted that all the money being discussed is from taxpayer dollars from citizens. 

Scott said that New York and New Jersey residents move to Florida to “get away” from the “ridiculous taxes” in the northeast states. 

Murphy, meanwhile, said that it’s not just New Jersey and  “blue states” calling for the federal government to grant aid. 

“It’s American states up and down the country,” he said. 

Tags Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus Dana Bash Phil Murphy Sunday talk shows

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