On the heels of Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2024 budget address, there’s absolutely no new news. More spending, more obfuscating, more pats on the back all around. The fact is, we’ve gotten so used to it, nobody even cares anymore. Even though it’s clear that this budget is 50% more than that of the previous administration.

And although the budget proposal begins with Murphy’s promise that “everything in this budget is about growing and strengthening the middle class,” I’m pretty sure you’ll find that it absolutely does not. In fact, the only thing that most of this budget is helping to grow and strengthen is the government itself.

So, no surprises here. But I just wanted to pick out a handful of things that the governor is planning to spend your money on that make the least sense. And sound much better than they are.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Holds Election Night Party
Mark Makela, Getty Images

💸 The governor confirmed plans to continue the Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters (ANCHOR) program in the 2024 budget.

Almost an embarrassment at the pittance that it is, the ANCHOR program is a check, presumably giving you some tax dollars back. Costs millions and gives you back enough for a couple of nice dinners out.

💸 Strengthening the Division of Pensions and Benefits by allowing it to hire an additional 30 employees and adding capacity in finance technology, data analytics, contract management, and procurements.

Great. Hire more people to play administrators for what is the most bloated and out-of-control pension system in the country. Oh, and in case you want a definition of procurement? That means buying more stuff.

💸 Gov. Phil Murphy proposed using $35 million in federal funds for ongoing work to replace the state’s antiquated unemployment systems and outdated hardware

While, it’s true that this system is a big fat mess, how about giving some relief to people who ARE employed and are NOT taking anything from the government and still can’t make ends meet.?

💸 Murphy is also expected to address efforts to have the Motor Vehicle Commission continue to offer more transactions and services online.

The MVC needs more money? I’ll stand in line for hours if you give me some REAL property tax relief.

💸 To “help” New Jersey students, the budget provides an increase of $832 million in direct K-12 aid for public schools, which he believes will help offset local property taxes.

Offset taxes? You mean keep them from going from their current rate (insane) to an even higher rate (completely unsustainable.)

💸 The governor proposes over $50 million in new resources to grow the “green economy,” including $12 million more for the Clean Energy Fund that previously went to NJ Transit and a $40 million Green Fund that can leverage both private capital and federal funds.

More of this “Green” BS? I’m all for environmentalism, but what do we need a clean state for if we can’t afford to live in it?

The “Next New Jersey,” he’s calling it. Sounds a lot like the same Ol' New Jersey to me.

And his claim of no new taxes is misleading because we’ve either already paid for all of this stuff or we WILL pay for it once he is on his campaign trail for president.

Murphy closes his proposal with this:

“This budget is purpose-built to help our residents find their place in the Next New Jersey by securing their place in the New Jersey of right now. It is focused on our families’ pocketbooks to make New Jersey more affordable. And this budget is also designed to build even greater confidence in our financial direction and in our ability to honestly meet our obligations.”

Blah blah blah.

Will this budget, as proposed, make things affordable For New Jerseyans?

For the lower income families? Perhaps marginally. For the rest of us? The majority?? Not so much.

When it comes to spending in NJ government, there’s nothing as UNaffordable to taxpayers as making things “more affordable” for taxpayers.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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