Senate President Steve Sweeney today said that he is naming Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Troy Singleton to the team of fiscal strategists who will work with the Murphy Administration and the Legislature to develop plans to restart the state’s economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Senator Ruiz, who chairs the Senate Education Committee and serves on the Senate Budget Committee, and Senator Singleton, who chairs the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee and is also a member of the Budget Committee, will join with Senator Paul Sarlo, the Budget Committee’s chairman, and Senator Steve Oroho, the Senate Republican Budget Officer, to help guide the planning needed to recover from the fiscal and economic damage of the COVID pandemic.
“Senators Ruiz and Singleton will bring more diversity and expertise to the planning process that is so important to our economic recovery,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “The financial consequences of the coronavirus crisis are especially harsh for communities of color and will have an impact on schools and municipalities of all sizes in New Jersey. We need to develop strategic plans that are broad and inclusive.”
Senator Sweeney said it is important to assess all the factors that will shape the state’s fiscal and economic conditions and to start the work on plans to recover from the damage to the finances of individuals, businesses and public services. He said the priorities should include maximizing the amount of federal aid, a plan for the three-month budget extension and for next year’s nine-month budget.
Senator Sweeney has already offered a job-sharing, furlough plan that would save hundreds of millions of dollars for state and local governments, help prevent layoffs, provide full and even increased pay to public employees and protect their job benefits. The Senate President has also called for a federally-financed program to relieve New Jersey and other states of the increased burden of pension costs.
“We don’t yet know the extent of the fiscal problems, but we can’t wait to do the planning needed to alleviate the financial impact this crisis is having on all levels of government and the lives and livelihoods of people in all areas of the state,” said Senator Sweeney. “The public’s health and safety is the ongoing priority, but the economic problems must be addressed.”
Earlier this week, Senator Ronald Rice called for minority legislative caucus representation on the fiscal strategy team.