Governor Murphy’s lawyers in his Attorney General’s office filed a 95 page brief, and seven “appendixes” containing more than a thousand pages. Links to those papers are set forth below. They were filed after 4pm last Friday, July 31. The New Jersey Supreme Court ordered responsive papers to be filed by 5pm today. Only the New Jersey Republicans including Jack Ciattarelli and Jay Webber have standing to do that, because they are parties to the original case. We at LibertyAndProsperity.com are “Amicus Curiae” (Friends of the Court), and are not permitted to respond. However, I did share my thoughts with the lawyers for the Republicans and posted them below. The case is scheduled to be argued before the Court on Wednesday at 10AM. I will share the online link shortly. If you have any ideas, arguments, or suggestions to help us persuade the NJ Supreme Court to stop this, please contact me or comment below so I can forward them to the attorneys who will be there. Thanks!
Random thoughts after reading the brief submitted by the NJ Attorney General. Although he took an oath to support, protect, and defend the NJ Constitution, he is trying to persuade the Court to ignore it, and let NJ Government borrow another $9.9 billion
Page 1: Preliminary Statement.
State fails to recognize that social distancing, masks, better nursing home practices, better treatment brought infections and death substantially under control before June 4, 2020, the day the $9.9 billion bond statute was introduced.
Page 2: 1947 Constitution incorporated the 1844 Voter Approval language mostly intact. It simply added “or to meet an emergency caused by disaster or Act of God” to previous language of “for purposes of war, or to repel invasion or to suppress insurrection”. Nothing to indicate that 1947 framers rejected purpose intended by 1844 framers, other than to reflect Great Depression experience of allowing State to borrow for emergency food and shelter, etc.
Page 6: State brief talks of 180,766 confirmed cases and 15,923 deaths, but fails to mention:
- There were 160,918 confirmed cases during March, April, and May, but only 21,000 cases during the two months of June and July.
- There were 11,698 deaths during March, April, and May, but only 4,225 deaths claimed for June and July (with more than 500 of those reported deaths appearing to be re-classification of earlier deaths)
- Roughly 80% of those who died were over 65, and some 45% were in long term care facilities.
While those deaths and illnesses were tragic, they did not have the economic impact of that number of young people being killed in war during their prime working years.
Page 8: The Fiscal Emergency is not “Ongoing”. It could have been, and can be ended at any time by cutting non-essential government spending (including salaries) in the same proportion as the forced reduction of incomes for those who own or work for privately owned businesses.
Page 9: The state has so far not offered any evidence that the borrowed money is to be used for funding for COVID needed services. On the contrary, it appears much if not most state spending is paying for football coaches, professors, and administrators of agencies that have been closed or working reduced hours since March.
Page 10: The State is estopped from claiming it is operating at $2.7 billion budget deficit for the 15 month adjusted fiscal year from June 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. It certified that the 15 month supplemental budget was balanced when it was adopted on June 30, 2020. That was the basis for the dismissal of first Liberty and Prosperity lawsuit on July 16, 2020.
Page 12: It appears the state has failed to identify ANY expenses that are “non-essential” given the severity of the pandemic.
Page 17: Did the State do any economic forecasts showing how businesses and citizens can afford the taxes need to pay existing spending and debt obligations, let alone $9.9 billion of additional debt?
Page 19: Did the state show any evidence that all employees protected by the 18 month “No Layoff” Agreement with the CWA were “essential” to “meet” the COVID19 “emergency” or “Act of God”.
Page 21: The State is estopped from now claiming that “the wheels come off” the budget on October 1, because the State specifically denied that in its motion to dismiss the previous action brought by Liberty And Prosperity that was granted on July 16.
Page 22-23: We agree that “traditional” belt-tightening simply will not be sufficient”. What is needed to comply with the NJ Constitution is either voter approval or extraordinary “belt-tightening”. Or it may be that Governor Murphy and the Legislature do not know what “belt-tightening” is.
Page 24: The State is repeating completely discredited Keynesian economic theories by claiming that governments that cut debt and spending creating long term economic harm. Many respected scholars economists have made convincing arguments that the opposite is true. They argue that the New Deal turned a normal 3 year bust of a boom and bust cycle into the 12 year “Great Depression”. The state completely ignores the effects of adding $9.9 billion of legally enforceable “sovereign debt” to more than $230 billion of existing sovereign, contract, and pension debts.
Paget 42: The term “fiscal emergency” used by the state is a political, and useless term. The state has offered absolutely no evidence to show that every dollar, program, salary structure and employee previously appropriated, created, or hired is in some way “essential” in light of the coronavirus emergency, and cannot be reduced or eliminated.
The bottom line is that the NJ Constitution requires that if New Jersey is going to roll the dice, by deciding that a $9.9 billion debt with interest and tax increases for the next 35 years, on top of $230 billion of existing debt is “essential”, that decision should be made by voters, and not elected officials who will be gone in a few years.
This massive borrowing may be the “last straw” to break the back of New Jersey’s economy. If there is not an immediate and long lasting economic rebound, the most likely result of more debt is to turn New Jersey state government into the New Jersey Transportation Authority. Just as more debt by the Transportation Authority has caused endless toll hikes, which produce less revenue requiring more toll hikes, adding more debt with mandatory real estate tax increases can result in endless state tax hikes also producing less revenue. If that happens, New Jersey will simply be unable to honor its contract debt and pension obligations.
Most of the proposed borrowing is money to be spent after November 3 Election Day. There is no need to deprive voters of an opportunity to vote on a Public Question that can change this state forever.
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Seth Grossman, Executive Director