Remember way back when, on July 2, when we thought things would be close to normal for the summer and we would be eating indoors like just about every other state in the country?

And then remember when Gov. Phil Murphy saw a picture of kids enjoying a night out at a bar/restaurant too close together? And like an angry parent, he grounded us all again and told us that the privilege of eating at a restaurant had been taken away at the last minute?

Well, the little time-out that he imposed upon us for our misdeeds is costing $30 million. In a bipartisan sweep, the Assembly Appropriations Committee approved another $30 million from federal aid money for the coronavirus to reimburse restaurant owners who spent money on supplies in preparation for indoor dining’s supposed return.

When Murphy decided to about-face and close restaurants again, he knew it was OK to do so, despite what it cost restaurant owners to prepare for the aborted reopening. Because he knew he’d be able to foot their bill. He’s well aware that the CARES act, which so far has been a bottomless pit of money, would reimburse us for it. But it didn’t have to be so. That $30 million could have been used in more productive ways. And now he’s borrowing money on top of that.

Think of how many unemployed people could have used that $30 million. Or the small business owners who lost their businesses. Imagine what that money could’ve meant for them. What a waste of $30 million.

But think about it. What does $30 million really mean to Murphy? It’s just a number. You may think, “Well, it’s not New Jersey’s money.” But even though it was a “gift” from the feds, don’t you think that we’ll be paying for all these gifts for a long, long time? I don’t blame the legislature for feeling the need to dole it out to these poor put-upon restaurateurs. But that $30 million is proof that Murphy is so out of touch with his constituents that the numbers don’t mean anything anymore.

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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