Last year, when Gov. Murphy borrowed $4.3 billion on top of the federal cares act aid that he was given, it left a question n many people's heads. And then mine, too. Many surmised that it was some sort of scam to kiss up to Trump, ask for the money, sock it away, and make it look like a surplus. And that’s pretty much exactly what has happened.

But Murphy‘s got another trick up his sleeve. According to an article on NJ.com, Murphy’s new budget allows for a $500 rebate for married couples in New Jersey with income below $150,000 and at least one dependent child. A single parent with less than $75,000 in income and at least one dependent child would also qualify for a rebate check, as would single parents with less than $75,000 in income and at least one dependent child.

For this purpose, Murphy also changed the definition of dependent child to mean someone under 19 years old or a full-time student under 24 years old. Sounds like a great plan, right? Sounds like a sweetheart of a guy, right? Here’s the caveat. (And you knew there was one.) There’s nothing in the budget that actually funds these checks. Explains state Sen. Mike Testa, R-Cumberland: “The taxes will be implemented this year, but the rebates won’t be. In fact, all taxpayers are getting is a hazy promise that the rebates might be funded in the next budget in the summer of 2021.”

Because the rebates won’t go out until next summer, that $500 will presumably be on the mind of voters when they go to the voting booth and could garner votes for legislative seats that are up for grabs. It’ll be Christmas in summer that voters will remember, just in time for election day. Isn’t it amazing how this check will come in on a beautiful sunny summer day just in time for the governor and every single member of the Legislature to be up for re-election? The problem is the bill won’t come due until after.

On top of that, the $4.5 billion he borrowed sits cozily in the coffers making it look like we have a surplus when it’s actually borrowed money. Who do you think is going to be responsible for paying back that money? And who is going to be responsible for the budget hole left by all of those $500 checks? By that time, the governor will be happily ensconced back in his position, pesky details to be sorted out later.

There are a lot of financial smoke and mirrors at play here. After all, that’s what the governor is good at and that’s what got him elected in the first place.

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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