As much of a mess as Trenton is, especially during these “unprecedented times”, there are always going to be a couple of people who are looking out for us. Jon Bramnick is one of them. Jon Bramnick, Assembly Minority Leader, has already showed his loyalty to the taxpayers of New Jersey and his concern over many of the missteps Governor Murphy has made. And now more than ever, I appreciate his speaking up.

“Christmas tree spending” is the term they used to give to government spending that was sort of like a “favor” to individual legislators for “pet” projects. Often, these would include favors to their friends or special interests. Those items barely make sense when we are in a situation of financial solvency but they definitely do not make sense now.

According to an article on, Jon Bramnick has called the governor out on these “pork projects.” One of those that has been singled out by Bramnick is $4 million for the Essex County Golf Course, an expenditure included in Murphy’s original budget proposal that the article implies has to do with his relationship with Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.

Doing favors and pushing through expenditures at the behest of special interests is not unique to the Phil Murphy administration. But it’s shocking that during a time where New Jerseyans are fighting to keep their heads above water, a golf course project could actually be included in an already bloated budget, when that requires both raising taxes and borrowing. The Republicans can and should go back to the state Supreme Court to fight some of these expenditures for pet projects.

As Bramnick stated in the article, after admitting that a return to court is possible, “The Court allowed borrowing without voter approval, but not for things like golf courses.” I’m certain that Phil Murphy will get his golf course, as well as any other projects that he may have promised to people. But at least it’s encouraging to know that there is someone speaking for us.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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