New Jersey State Senators Anthony M. Bucco, Kristin Corrado, and Joe Pennacchio said the Murphy Administration’s massive failures in protecting nursing homes, processing unemployment claims, and reopening Motor Vehicle Commission agencies must be investigated by the Legislature to ensure that fixes can be implemented as quickly as possible.
“It’s clear to everyone in New Jersey that the Murphy Administration has failed to properly protect nursing home residents, help unemployed workers, or plan for the MVC’s reopening,” said Bucco (R-25). “What’s not clear, however, is why the governor didn’t listen to the warnings raised by so many people or why he continues to refuse to enact the common-sense solutions we’ve proposed. It’s also not clear why Senate Democrats continue to delay the bipartisan investigation we were promised to help guide our efforts to fix lingering problems and prevent a recurrence of these critical failures.”
Nearly 7,000 residents and staff of long-term care facilities, including nursing and veterans homes, died from COVID-19 after the Murphy Administration issued directives that may have prevented their ability to keep infected patients from being admitted.
“It’s possible that half of New Jersey’s COVID-19 deaths can be attributed to irresponsible directives from the Department of Health that led to major outbreaks,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “The families of those who died deserve to know what went wrong, and surviving residents deserve to know that they’re safe. The legislative investigation we’ve proposed would help us to make those determinations and to put a spotlight on any outstanding issues that must be addressed.”
Corrado also pointed to the continuing failure by the New Jersey Department of Labor to process tens of thousands of outstanding unemployment claims.
“By the governor’s own admission, nearly 50,000 out-of-work New Jerseyans still haven’t gotten the unemployment benefits they’re owed after months of trying,” said Corrado (R-40). “It’s beyond outrageous. I have constituents that I’ve been trying to help since March who keep hitting a brick wall with the Department of Labor. Trying to get anything resolved with Unemployment is the most frustrating experience I’ve ever had as a legislator, I can’t even imagine how bad it is for those who are desperate to have their claims approved. People deserve to know why the unemployment system continues to fail them and what the Legislature is doing to hold the Murphy Administration accountable.”
Additionally, Bucco said it was important to understand why the Murphy Administration failed to acknowledge or act upon repeated warnings about the Motor Vehicle Commission months before the agency’s chaotic reopening.
“All of the chaos, the long lines, and the frustration that drivers are feeling is completely unnecessary,” said Bucco (R-25). “The MVC and the governor were warned back in May, two months before agencies reopened, that they needed a solid plan in place. They never responded to my direct outreach or implemented the recommendations that were provided by legislators. Nearly a month after agencies reopened, people are still lining up overnight just for a chance to get in the door. We need to understand why the administration didn’t listen and to ensure that every step possible is being taken to fix the MVC permanently.”
They called on the Senate President to follow-through on his promise from May to form the “Senate Review and Recovery Committee” to investigate these and other matters related to the State’s flawed response to COVID-19.
“We fully supported Senate President Sweeney when he announced the bipartisan committee we had called for to investigate and improve upon New Jersey’s response to COVID-19,” added Corrado. “Two months later, however, we’re still waiting for him to take any steps beyond a single press release.”
An effort by Republicans to move a legislative investigation forward was blocked during a Senate session yesterday by Senate Democrats.
“Our original concerns with nursing homes, unemployment, and the MVC that prompted our calls for a legislative investigation remain,” Pennacchio concluded. “I’m disappointed that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle seem more concerned with protecting Governor Murphy than protecting the people of New Jersey. Let’s form this committee, give it subpoena power, and let it shine some light on what the Murphy Administration needs to fix to help New Jersey get through and beyond this crisis.”