Racing to beat a Thursday deadline for approval of a new state budget, Democratic lawmakers hurriedly introduced a massive $50.6 billion spending plan late Monday and rushed it through budget committees.

The full Legislature is expected to vote on the plan Wednesday and Murphy will sign it before the midnight deadline June 30.

Awash in federal COVID relief money and unexpectedly robust tax collections, the budget increases spending 9% over last year.

The cornerstone of the budget is a $2 billion property tax relief program that will provide most homeowners with a $1,500 credit and renters $450.

Since Murphy took office, state spending has soared by record amounts.

Chris Christie's final budget, for fiscal 2018, came in at $35.5 billion. Throughout his eight years as governor, Christie generally held yearly increases to around 3%. During that time, spending increased $5.5 billion.

Under Murphy, spending has increased spending almost three times as much, and he has three more years as the state's chief executive.

The latest budget is $15 billion dollars more than Murphy's first spending plan. It amounts to a 42.5% increase in just five years.

After the budget bill was introduced on Monday, Senate Republican Budget Officer Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, said it was "insane that Democrats will vote for a $50 billion budget today that literally nobody has seen."

O'Scanlon and his legislative colleagues called it a "shocking lack of transparency."

While Democrats have held multiple budget hearings, there will be no public input on the final spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

Negotiations on the budget were held last weekend between Murphy, Senate President Nick Scutari, D-Union, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex. The talks took place behind closed doors and out of the public eye.

Final details were worked out on Monday, just hours before the budget bill was introduced.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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