Legislature Approves $9.9 Billion Borrowing Plan: This afternoon, the New Jersey State Senate and Assembly both approved a plan to borrow up to $9.9 billion to balance the state budget and avoid public employee layoffs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senate passed the bill with a 22-15 vote, and the Assembly passed the bill 46-26. The bill was supported by legislative leadership and was largely opposed by Republican legislators. It now heads to Governor Murphy’s desk for his signature, which is expected.
The legislation allows the state to borrow up to $2.7 billion through October 1, and another $7.2 billion between then and June 20, 2021. Murphy initially pushed for a borrowing up to $14 billion, though the amount was ultimately scaled back to $9.9 billion.
State Republicans have vowed to file a lawsuit over the bill once it becomes law, pointing to a prior court ruling and legal opinions that say that the state cannot borrow to generate revenue.
Murphy’s Approval Rating Soars to 68%: A recent poll conducted by New Direction, a non-profit group with close ties to Governor Murphy, shows that the Governor has a 63%-30% job approval rating. The poll shows that the Governor’s approval ratings continue to rise, up 14% from a November 2019 poll conducted by the same group.
The governor received a 71%-27% approval rating for his handling of COVID-19 issues, including a 51%-49% rating from Republicans. His favorables are at 62% - 32%, while 61% of the state views Murphy as straightforward and honest about the challenges New Jersey faces.
The poll also shows that 64% of New Jersey residents support attempts to control the spread of COVID-19, even if it hurts the state’s economy, while 34% favor restarting the economy despite the possibility that it would hamper efforts to control the spread of the virus.
Senator Gopal and iStar team up to Support Asbury Park Businesses: Businesses in Asbury Park who have been struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing state restrictions could soon be getting some financial relief courtesy of a partnership between iStar and Monmouth County State Senator Vin Gopal.
iStar and Senator Gopal issued a joint statement on Tuesday announcing they are working together to help support the Asbury Park business community with micro-grants. iStar will be providing $10,000 which is being matched by the Vin Gopal Civic Association for a total of $20,000. Asbury Park small business owners and independent contractors can then apply for a either a $500 or $1,000 grant through the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce.
“Asbury Park’s small businesses help to make the City a vibrant and special community, and they need assistance in weathering the challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis,” iStar Senior Vice President of Land Brian Cheripka said. “This program will provide direct financial support to assist local businesses as they work to cover some of their expenses throughout the reopening process. Whether it’s their support of AP Dinner Table or this new micro-grant business program, we are equally honored to work with organizations like the Vin Gopal Civic Association because of their commitment to community centered engagement."
NJ Gambling Revenues Plummets: According to the New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement, revenue dropped significantly last month as Atlantic City’s casinos were still closed. In June 2020, total gaming revenue was $97.6 million, compared to $283.8 million during the same month, last year, a $65.6% decrease. Meanwhile, internet gaming has increased. The total was $84.9 million last month compared to $38.1 million in June 2019, an increase of 123.1%. New Jersey Casinos have since reopened but with restrictions and limited capacity.