💲 Murphy and Oliver get new rides with pandemic relief funds

💲 First details of how NJ spend Federal relief money

💲 State Sen. says "WTF?"

Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver both got sweet new rides that were paid for with federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Exactly how the Murphy administration spent some of the $6.24 billion in federal COVID funding has been a mystery. Neither Murphy nor the Democratic controlled legislature provided any details when a new state budget was passed last year.

This week, the New Jersey Department of the Treasury finally released a memo to the Joint Budget Oversight Committee detailing 46 ways the money was spent.

While the vast majority of the money was spent on hospitals, public health initiatives and for local government assistance directly related to the pandemic, there were a few curious items in the memo.

Details of the memo were first reported by Politico New Jersey.

⬛ New Jersey spent $5 million to buy baby formula to distribute "families in need."

⬛ The Department of Law and Public Safety was given $10 million to buy license plate readers to "prevent and respond to the increased violence resulting from and exacerbated by the public health emergency."

⬛School security initiates were funded with $6.5 million to "provide a critical mapping initiative to enhance school safety and help law enforcement respond to emergencies."

⬛The New Jersey State Police were granted $521,783 to purchase eight vehicles "to support State officials who are responsible for responding to the COVID-19 public health crisis."

attachment-COVID FUNDS

The memo states the vehicles purchased using more than half-a-million dollars in COVID funds were to "support state officials...including the Governor and Lieutenant Governor."

Each line item on the memo includes justifications for the expenditures.

You can read the full memo by clicking HERE.

In the case of new vehicles, the treasury department wrote, "As part of their many responsibilities, these officials provide leadership and lend support to the State’s COVID-19 recovery efforts at vaccination sites, hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and other affected sites."

The governor and Lt. governor are granted full transportation and a security detail. A state trooper drives them wherever they need to go. Other state officials, including the Attorney General, the Assembly Speaker and Senate President also have state vehicles with a driver and security detail.

It is not clear what other state officials received a new vehicle.

NJ Joint Budget Oversight Committee
NJ Joint Budget Oversight Committee

Gov. Murphy remains out of state at a National Governor's Association meeting in California, and has not commented on the expenditures.

Republican members of the Joint Budget Oversight Committee have been calling for more transparency on how the state has been spending billions in COVID relief funds. Sen. Declan O'Scanlon called the process "a secretive joke."

O'Scanlon also claims billions of dollars remain unspent, and expressed frustration with committee leadership and Gov. Murphy.

"WTF are you waiting for," O'Scanlon asked in a press release on Monday.


Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

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