Aug 26, 2020
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Press Conference Transcript August 26
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy held a press conference on August 26 to discuss coronavirus updates. Read the full transcript of his news briefing speech here.
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Phil Murphy: (00:00)
To her right, another familiar face, the state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Christina Tan, great to have you both here. To my far left another guy who needs no introduction, the superintendent of the state police Colonel Pat Callahan and to my immediate left we are also joined today and we welcome back, he’s been here many times, the commissioner of labor and workforce development Rob Asaro-Angelo. Rob, great to have you here. We also have Jared Maples here, the director of the Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness. So the commissioner will be able to speak in greater detail to this shortly but New Jersey will be submitting an application for the FEMA lost wages supplemental assistance program which the president recently announced, but even as we do this, let me make it absolutely clear that what our workers and families need is for the president and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to reauthorize the $600.00 federal weekly unemployment benefit they allowed to expire at the end of July. While we will investigate every possible penny that we can get into the pockets of hundreds of thousands of New Jersey families, only reauthorizing the $600.00 weekly federal unemployment would provide the security that so many of our residents and frankly fellow Americans need in this moment.
Phil Murphy: (01:21)
As I mentioned, Rob will be able to speak to our application and the process in greater detail and I thank him and everyone at the Department of Labor for the work they continue to do to deliver benefits to the New Jersey families whose jobs were directly impacted by this pandemic.
Phil Murphy: (01:39)
Next today, I will be signing an executive order allowing all gyms and health clubs and indoor amusement facilities to reopen to their members and customers beginning this upcoming Tuesday, September 1. When the doors reopen our gyms’ capacity will be limited to 25% at any single time. Fitness classes will also be allowed to resume but their capacity must be limited to one customer per every 200 square feet of classroom space to ensure proper distancing. These protocols will also apply to fitness activities like Pilates and yoga classes that were already permitted to resume. All gym goers are required to wear masks at all time when in the gym, employees and staff must wear masks at all time, even trainers working with a client, and logs of when all gym members and staff were in the facility must be maintained so should a positive test be received by someone who was in a gym, our contact tracers can get right to work notifying other gym goers who were there with them.
Phil Murphy: (02:48)
Additionally, on the floors, equipment is to either be moved and spaced to allow a minimum of six feet of distance between all gym goers or wear equipment can’t be moved, certain machines must be cordoned off so that gym goers are at least six feet apart. So for example, in a row of treadmills, this may mean that only every other treadmill will be available for use and only equipment that can be properly sanitized in between uses should be made available.
Phil Murphy: (03:17)
As many gyms have transitioned to outdoor activities, those may continue pursuant to current limits for outdoor gatherings and so long as members can maintain a safe six foot social distance. Judy and her team at the Department of Health will be following my executive order with all the health and safety guidelines and protocols which will be needed to be followed including those for air conditioning and ventilation as well as additional steps for consideration. What I’ve discussed here today is only part of what is an exhaustive list.
Phil Murphy: (03:52)
That’s for a reason. Gyms are among the most challenging of indoor environments as noted by multiple epidemiologists and experts, even in the past several days and weeks, but given where we are in this fight, we believe we are ready to take this step forward. I know this has been a long time coming and I thank the many, many, overwhelmingly, the many, many responsible gym owners who have done the right things and worked with us over the past several months. You are an asset to your industry and our state and I thank you for your understanding and partnership and I know there have been a few knuckleheads who have been more than interested in their own celebrity frankly than in working with us to defeat the virus, but they are thankfully overwhelmingly outnumbered by the good guys and gals, and I also want to thank the many resident gym members across the state who have also risen to the challenge. Many of you have adapted to outdoor workouts and changing your schedules. Many others have put their memberships on hold to help us crush the virus. It is also because of your diligence that we can do this. As for indoor amusements, while the guidance will be forthcoming Judy, I believe the health and safety protocols will be very similar to what currently exists for other indoor recreational businesses and outdoor amusements.
Phil Murphy: (05:13)
Next, switching gears completely, we are proud to announce and this is hot off the press that the Federal Transit Administration today allocated $248 million to the Portal North Bridge project. This is a critical infrastructure project. This is a critical step and we are pleased that it continues to move ahead. Next we have updated the list of states from which travelers to New Jersey are being advised to observe a 14-day self quarantine period and for the first time the list has shrunk substantially, five states have been removed and none were added. I believe Guam is a territory that was added but no states. Again the states and territories on this list have over a seven day rolling average, either more than 10 new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 residents, or a daily positivity greater than 10%. This is what’s been determined by not just Judy but her colleagues in New York and Connecticut as we do this as a region. These are the metrics, they’re posted, they haven’t changed, and they are unlikely to change. So visit, by the way if you’ve got any questions, covid19.nj.gov/travel for the complete list of states and to learn whether you should be self-quarantining. If you are arriving from one of these states, use your smartphone to fill out the Department of Health’s travel survey which is available through covid19.nj.gov/travel.
Phil Murphy: (06:43)
Even as we see the metrics improving and the list shrinking, we continue to ask everyone to practice self-responsibility and good citizenship by complying with our travel advisories. This goes equally whether you are a visitor to a state or a New Jersey resident returning from one of these states. Let’s all remain vigilant and self-aware and let’s all remember that our number one goal is to slow the spread of this virus and by doing so save lives.
Phil Murphy: (07:12)
With that, let’s take a look, Judy, at the overnight numbers with your blessing. Today we’re reporting another 288 positive test results for a cumulative total of 190,306. Daily positivity for August 22 was 1.99%, up a little. Our rate of transmission currently sits at .8 and that is down a little. In our hospitals as of last night’s reports, there were 229 COVID-19 confirmed patients, another 196 persons under investigation awaiting results of a test for a total of 425. Of this, 72 in intensive care, 29 ventilators in use, and today with a heavy heart, we’re reporting another 11 deaths that have been confirmed to be from COVID-19 related complications. Seven of these deaths are from the past five days and our statewide total is now a staggering 14,134 of confirmed fatalities, the number of probable deaths has been refined slightly downward to 1,780. Again at the risk of apples and oranges Judy as we’ve been doing every day for the past month, these are not confirmed, not included in these numbers but there were nine reported deaths in our hospitals yesterday. Again, nine as of yesterday not included in these numbers.
Phil Murphy: (08:37)
As we do every day, let’s take a minute and recall three of these blessed souls we have lost. We begin today by remembering Evaristo Leon of Union City in Hudson County. He was 92 years old and one of the thousands of Cuban refugees to flee the Castro regime and make his home in Union City. He came to the United States in 1969 with his wife Manuela, and there is Manuela on the left, taking the chance to give their children better opportunities than what were presented in Cuba. After spending a month in Florida, they came north to New Jersey. Not everybody goes from New Jersey to Florida, this is a guy who went from Florida to New Jersey, and both Evaristo and Manuela got jobs at a clothing factory but Evaristo found his career calling in the jewelry stores that lined Bergen Line Avenue, making and repairing watches. Evaristo’s dream as a boy in Cuba was to be a doctor but even though it always remained a dream, he was always willing to assist his Union City neighbors who needed a check of their blood pressure or their glucose levels or anything else that he could help with.
Phil Murphy: (09:51)
He lived a joyful life, loving nothing more than spending time with his family and friends. He also had a very artistic talent and was a practitioner of the Cuban folk music genre called decima guajira in which singers improvised 10 line poems. Evaristo leaves behind his beloved Manuela and our prayers are with her and her family along with his two daughters Maribel and Benita and two sons Art and Edward and I had the great honor of speaking with Edward on Monday and their spouses. He’s also survived by five grandchildren, Andrew, Kayla, Luke, Fernando, and Ilene. God rest his soul and may God watch over him.
Phil Murphy: (10:37)
Next we celebrate the life of Rudolph Lowenstein, a 71-year resident of Ewing right up the road. Rudolph too was an immigrant, born in Berlin, Germany, 98 years ago. He came to America in 1937 at the age of 15. He was also, and this story was written by more folks than you would guess although not many of them are still alive to talk about it, he was also then a proud U.S. Army veteran having served in World War II against the Axis Powers including Germany where he was born. Rudolph owned his own fruit and vegetable wholesale business before becoming an inspector for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and then for the federal Department of Agriculture, the latter of which he worked for the final 21 years of his career before retirement.
Phil Murphy: (11:32)
His community service however is what set Rudolph apart. He served as president of his synagogue, Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville. He was the chairman of the ritual committee and was honored by the congregation not once but twice as their man of the year. In his honor, the synagogue is naming the cornerstone of their building after him. He was the chairman of Meals on Wheels at Greenwood House in Ewing and was honored there with the [Madoff 00:12:03] Award as volunteer of the year. for all he did throughout his life, Rudolph was named a 2018 recipient of the governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service, Lifetime Service right here at the Trenton War Memorial. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Clara and his daughter Judith. He leaves behind his son Alan who lives in Florida with whom I had the great honor of speaking on Monday, and his son-in-law Howard. He also leaves grandchildren Justin, Jody, Evan, Mark and Jamie and great-grandson Jack, and he leaves behind a remarkable life and legacy of service. May Rudolph’s memory be a blessing and may his example of selfless service including to his country inspire us all to look outward to serve our communities, especially at this time.
Phil Murphy: (12:54)
Finally today we go to Westfield and remember Nicholas Gismondi, who passed away … Is that a great photo or what? What a shot, who passed away just five days after his 65th birthday and sadly you can’t make this up, his brother Ralph passed from COVID-19 122 days before Nick passed. Extraordinary. So Nick was born in the Elmhurst neighborhood in Queens and became a standout athlete at McClancy High School. He was a prolific base stealer on the baseball diamond and his speed, hitting and clubhouse leadership landed him a spot on the roster of the team at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. He graduated from St. Francis with a degree in accounting, but while baseball was his first love, the true love of his life was his wife Mary Jane with whom I had the great honor of speaking on Monday and by the way, who herself was positive and was in the hospital with COVID-19. They met each other in 1974 and they married in 1982 and together they moved to Westfield to raise their three sons, Christopher, Nicholas and Michael.
Phil Murphy: (14:05)
His love for the national pastime never waned however. Nick served for many years as the president of Westfield’s baseball league. His commitment to youth sports was equally well-known and well-regarded, earning him induction into the Westfield Booster Hall of Fame. That’s the second hall of fame he belongs to by the way, as he was inducted as well into the McClancy High School Hall of Fame.
Phil Murphy: (14:29)
So Nick leaves behind his beloved wife and sons and their families including his grandchildren, Juliet and Luke. He is also survived by his parents, God bless them, Nicholas and Josephine, and his sister, Joanne, and he leaves a grateful Westfield community behind. So we thank him for all he did for the youth of his adopted hometown. May he be remembered fondly and may God bless and watch over him and all those he loved.
Phil Murphy: (14:58)
So just like every one of the more than 14,000 members of our broad and diverse and blessed New Jersey family, we have lost Evaristo, Rudolph and Nick, deserve to not just be remembered as numbers, but for the lives they lived, the lives they touched, and the communities they left behind. Everyone deserves this special dignity, and in their memories, we must continue to do all we are doing to fight this pandemic. Even though the numbers of lives lost continues thank God to decline, we are still losing lives to this virus. We cannot give up until that number hits zero and stays there, and even then we have to make sure it stays there.
Phil Murphy: (15:42)
So finally today, switching gears, I’d like to recognize another of the small businesses who the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has partnered with during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis to help ensure that we emerge strong and prepared for our future. Ingenuity Infrastructure is a full-service, civil engineering planning and surveying firm based in Red Bank, in fact I just spoke to its founder on Monday, that’s [Jacqueline Floor 00:16:10]. They just moved into the Galleria in Red Bank which is a very cool spot. So under Jacqueline’s leadership, Ingenuity has found its focus on building resilient communities from Hoboken to Atlantic City, which means we’re going to need her expertise by the way more than ever before. Ingenuity Infrastructure’s goal was to stay strong and operational during the pandemic, and Jacqueline worked through the EDA to receive a small business emergency assistance loan to help her cover payroll and employee benefits, rent, insurance, utilities, and other operating expenses. I mention I had the chance to check in with Jacqueline on Monday and to share my optimism for Ingenuity INfrastructure’s future. I can’t wait to see how they help us emerge stronger from the pandemic and how they’re going to help us design and build a more resilient state and that goes by the way not just for Jacqueline and Ingenuity Infrastructure, but for every one of the millions of you who have been working with us to fight this pandemic.
Phil Murphy: (17:11)
As we look to the future, it’s not just about crushing the curves, but building our longterm resiliency against a second wave or a future unforeseen pandemic. Together folks, we can do this and I know we can because we’ve done so much already. With that, it is my pleasure to turn things over to the guy to my left, the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, welcome back Rob Asaro-Angelo.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (17:36)
Great. Thank you Governor. It’s been a while since I last joined you back in June. Since that time we have paid out more than $8 billion in benefits to an additional 500,000 claimants. That’s a total of $14 billion with a B to over 1.3 million workers in the state in about 20 weeks’ time. This is not a situation any state, no matter how well-funded nor modern the resources could have prepared for, but we’ve made significant strides.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (18:03)
Resources could have prepared for, but we’ve made significant strides. Our new call center, which was onboarded in June, has now filled nearly 350,000 calls, and more than half of those claims were resolved right at the point first point of contact. We brought on hundreds of new staff in our unemployment and IT divisions to help with this fight, but we’re not out of the woods by any means. Unfortunately, the federal unemployment system is imperfect, even with the Cares Act additions, it’s not built to help all unemployed workers. Over time, Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor have deemed UI benefits aren’t for everyone who is unemployed, just a much smaller subset who meet the laundry list of qualifications and eligibility requirements, monetary, and otherwise.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (18:44)
I am hopeful that lessons learned across the country during this pandemic will lead to a system that is more accessible to all those who need assistance. In the meantime, we will continue to work day and night to serve New Jerseyans in need. We haven’t slowed our efforts to bring much needed relief to eligible New Jersey workers throughout this pandemic. Thank you for recognizing Kathleen and all of her efforts in the UI divisions, her staff [inaudible 00:19:08] budget address, Governor, it is well appreciated.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (19:11)
We have taken advantage of every resource that might assist those continuing to struggle, especially since the unfortunate end of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation or FPUC, which provided a crucial $600 supplement to all of unemployment claimants each week. To that end today, the Garden State is applying for the FEMA Lost Wages program at the $300 level. As the Governor said before, our State can’t afford the $1.7 billion it might cost to support the $400 level through December, but we will do everything we can. Of the States that have applied thus far 93% like us have sought the grants at the $300 level, which the Federal Government pays in its entirety.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (19:50)
This initial grant would provide payments to some claimants collecting unemployment for the weeks of August 1st, August 8th and August 15th for maximum total of $900. Now let me be perfectly clear, the memo President Trump signed calling for the creation of this program on August 8th does not go far enough to help those in need. In fact, it leaves our neediest workers, those were receiving less than $100 in a week, and unemployment benefits or those whose unemployment might not be directly related to COVID out. We were desperately hoping to see this program sparked further congressional action to continue the $600 weekly FPUC supplement that did not leave behind any unemployed beneficiaries, was more beneficial to workers in our high cost State like New Jersey, and did not require a whole new application process.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (20:36)
We remain hopeful that Congress will do the right thing by extending a program that does not exclude those most need, would not require weeks of new backend programming, wouldn’t require a separate FEMA application process and wouldn’t end the vital program that put nearly $8.4 billion into accounts of our workers who through no fault of their own have made sacrifices in the name of public safety. We hear every day how this assistance made it possible for those billions of our friends, neighbors, and colleagues to survive this economic crisis as the pandemic has left few unscathed.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (21:10)
The disaster relief fund, the source of the FEMA grant, has a finite amount of money. National estimates vary on how many weeks of benefits the fund will support, but general consensus is between seven and nine, but that is before any disbursements from the fund to deal with this week storms in the Gulf. As we’re already in week five of this program eligible New Jersey recipients would likely receive it as a onetime retroactive lump sum payment, because this is an entirely new program funded by the Federal Disaster Relief Agency, for which we can not use any of our current unemployment trust fund monies, accounts, staff, or infrastructure.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (21:49)
It will not be easy or quick to get this additional money into the pockets of those who need it most. However, we have already been working to make it happen as quickly as we possibly can. We continue to work closely with FEMA and U.S. Department of Labor, as well as our partners in other States to make sure we administer this program in the smartest way possible with minimal needed action from the roughly 800,000 claimants who are to receive this income supplement. Once our application has been approved, our department will be putting out more information, but we will do everything in our power to bring every bit of assistance to our workers by any means necessary. Thank you, Governor.
Phil Murphy: (22:24)
Rob, thank you for this. Again, this is not ideal, but if there are pennies out there, we can gather in dollars and send them to folks who need it most in our State. I know we will do it, and you will lead that. What’s your guests in terms of how long the application turnaround time looks like?
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (22:42)
The application turn around time has been pretty quick. We’ll have it in today, I’m guessing it’ll probably be approved the next day or two, but then the harder part is the getting all the information contracts set up for the actual process.
Phil Murphy: (22:52)
And to give folks an idea of how unusual this is. Rob has had to work in partnership with Dan Kelly, for instance, who oversees our, you’ve heard Dan’s name before, works with Pat all the time on things like storms. So Dan has been in government, and has been in emergency seats since Super Storm Sandy. And in fact, he’s the guy who’s setting up the office of accountability to make sure we track every time of federal money we receive, but this money’s coming part from FEMA, this is coming from a completely unrelated source than from the Department of Labor. So it is not an easy lift. So thank you. But if it’s a lift if we think it’s worth it to get more money into people’s pockets who need it the most, we’ll take the lift. Thank you. Thanks for being here. With that, please help me welcome the woman who needs so introduction the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judith Persichilli.
Judith Persichilli: (23:47)
Thank you, Governor, and good afternoon. I think we all recognize how important exercise is for good physical and mental health. So we’re excited to offer residency opportunity to get back to their gyms. Given the risk of transmission, however, associated with exercising indoors, it is important that both gym owners and customers abide by health and safety guidelines very closely. We know that the virus spreads through the air via respiratory droplets, especially in confined spaces. And when people are working out, they usually breathe more rapidly and deeply, which causes them to expel more droplets.
Judith Persichilli: (24:27)
Additionally, when exercising, we are often sharing common spaces and using common equipment with others, and have used the equipment before us such as free weights or cardio machines. CDC released a study, earlier this month, that examined cluster of cases in South Korea that stemmed from fitness dance classes, which demonstrated that intense physical exercise in densely populated sports facilities could increase the risk of infection. In total, 112 persons were infected with COVID-19 associated with classes at 12 sports facilities. The study concluded that the characteristics that might have led to the transmission among attendees included large class sizes, small spaces, and the intensity of the workouts.
Judith Persichilli: (25:20)
The potential for transmission in a fitness facility is why it is extremely critical that owners adhere to the strict guidelines that the Department will be releasing. In order to protect clients and staff, there needs to be frequent disinfection of surfaces and equipment and enough space between customers, for people to safely practice social distancing, and everyone must wear a mask. Customers must also be mindful of practicing social distancing, good hand hygiene and staying home when not feeling well. Please do not go to your gym if you do not feel well. Moving on to my daily report now, as the Governor shared, our hospitals reported 425 hospitalizations with 72 individuals in critical care and 40% of them on ventilators. Fortunately, there are no new reports of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children. We have a total of 56 cases in our State. The children affected have either tested positive for active COVID-19 infection or had antibodies associated with COVID-19 exposure. The ages of the children range from one to 18, the race and ethnicity breakdown is white 14%, black 36%, Hispanic 40%, Asian 6% and other 4%. The Governor reviewed the new cases in deaths, the new deaths by race and ethnicity are white 54.1%, black 18.3, Hispanic 20.2, Asian 5.5 and other 1.8. All the 11 deaths we reported today occurred in August. The veterans’ homes and the psychiatric hospitals numbers remain the same.
Judith Persichilli: (27:12)
Our daily percent positivity on August 22nd for the State is 1.99%. That’s 1.97% in the Northern part of the State. The central part of the State is reporting 1.70, and the Southern part of the State 2.44. That concludes my report. Stay safe, stay healthy and remember for each other, and for all of us, please take the call. Thank you.
Phil Murphy: (27:38)
Judy, thank you. And thank you for every single day being relentless in reminding us of the inequities that this virus has exposed, particularly on racial lines. So thank you as always. Pat, over to you, anything on the compliance and or storm front. I know you’re happy to hear that the South Korean, the dance classes are back in session there. So you may be able to participate hopefully sooner than later here in New Jersey. Anything else you got.
Colonel Patrick Callahan: (28:09)
That’s right. Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. On the compliance front, in Elizabeth, the Bamboleo Nightclub was cited for indoor dining, in violation of the executive order. The Lakeside Diner in Lacey Township, Ocean County, that owner continues to be charged with the fourth degree contempt for violating Department of Health’s closure order. And just one thing I’d like to stress about, that one is the reports of hate mail coming in to the Lakeside Diner, as well as to other establishments with the similar or same name throughout the State. And whether it’s the one in Lacy or any other establishments, I would just ask that everybody refrained from the desire to send hate mail to these establishments, and just let law enforcement handle that.
Colonel Patrick Callahan: (28:58)
On the storm front, Governor, everybody sees the momentum that Hurricane Laura has picked up across the Gulf at this juncture. Our Urban Search and Rescue Team has not been activated, because FIM is going to use teams that are closer from Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, but we closely are monitoring that, that’ll probably end up being a rain event for us in about three or four days. And on a different type of storm front, and I talked to the Governor about discussing this, the Attorney General had hosted a virtual press conference this morning with regard to the announcing the arrest of 21 alleged sex offenders, which was an operation, was dubbed Operation Screen Capture, which was launched in response to the spike in cyber threats to children.
Colonel Patrick Callahan: (29:46)
The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children have reported a 50% uptick in, and that’s of March 1st to July 31st time period, with a disturbing trend of seven, eight and nine year olds being the victims. It’s not lost on any of us that this pandemic has driven students and children to electronic devices from not only from remote learning, but from connecting with family and friends, online game platforms, apps, and this certainly serves as an opportunity for parents and guardians and the students themselves to be aware of this new definition of stranger that lurks online and views electronic devices as an opportunity to take advantage of our most vulnerable, and that coupled with not being in school around teachers, or not being in sports around coaches is a sad combination, and certainly creates a lot of opportunity for child predators.
Colonel Patrick Callahan: (30:50)
So I just will give out our Internet Crimes Against Children tip line, which is 1 888-648-6007. Again, that’s the Internet Crimes Against Children tip line, 1 888-648-6007. The Attorney General’s press release also has awareness and tip information, and I trust in the next week or so, Governor, that the Attorney General’s office, State Police Department of Education, children and families and human services will continue this messaging, especially with the start of schools, whether they’re all remote or in that hybrid fashion, because we have to make sure that we keep our kids safe. Thanks, Gov.
Phil Murphy: (31:34)
Amen to that. And to you and the Attorney General, thank you for leading it. And you hear seven, eight and nine year olds being stalked, the bottom of your heart falls out. But sadly not surprising given the remote isolated environment that we all had to go through, and you add to that what was already a fire, and it just flames more. So thank you for your leadership on that. We’re going to start over here today, before we do a couple of things, tomorrow, we’re with you virtually.
Phil Murphy: (32:08)
Friday, we’re actually not going to have a press conference, but I’m going to be in Middlesex County at another event, and I will put on my shoulders, Judy, to give the overnight report on Friday, and we’ll miss you, but you’ll be with me in spirit, I know as will you Pat. Again, more details on that. That’ll be Friday in Middlesex County, and then we’ll be going back to the regular routine of virtual over the weekend, and back in person on Monday. There was a white house VTC on Monday, so I don’t know that we have a time yet for Monday, but we’ll make sure you all know that plenty in advance. So with that, Dustin, good afternoon.
Good afternoon. Does your order allowing indoor amusements in include American Dream? Can you confirm or deny the September 14th or 15th as a target date for some form of indoor dining? Do you have any comment on the increasing number of school districts, where administrators say they want to reopen, but might have to go all remote because so many teachers are requesting leave? For the Commissioner, exactly how long would it take to rework the State’s backend system or complete any other work before it can distribute the extra unemployment funds, and do applicants have to do anything in order to receive the money? Governor, how can you talk about system systemic inequalities in your budget speech, but at the same time, you’re proposing cutting money for clean water, the Lead Safe Home Renovation Program, money for Childhood Lead Outreach? And the 500 million you proposed last year for lead pipe replacement won’t be on the ballot this year. Thanks.
Phil Murphy: (33:47)
I missed your question about schools, Dustin.
Do you have any comments on the increasing number of school districts where the administrators said they want to reopen, but they may have to go all remote because so many teachers are requesting leave.
Phil Murphy: (34:06)
American Dream will lead to speak for themselves, but does this cover American Dream? The answer is it does. When they decide to open, obviously, is a decision on their part, but it does include and cover them. If I heard you right, September 14 or 15, I hope it’s before then. As I sit here today, Judith, today is the 26th of August. I hope that we’ve got some indoor dining before that. Again, I’m not hanging my hat on it. I’m not trying to make news, but that’s not a date that I’m using at least.
Phil Murphy: (34:39)
The only comment I would have is that these plans remain fluid, and we’re quite impressed. I was with Kevin Deemer this morning in Somerville, we had a really good event to sort of underscore our commitment to education at all levels. And each of the districts, Somerville’s a hybrid district by example, and that’s the majority. I think each of these districts, the superintendents, the leadership are putting the plans together with the realities that they face in their particular district, and their plans ref reflect that.
Phil Murphy: (35:17)
Before I turn it to you, Rob, the budget does include a big slug for lead waterline removals, but the broader point, Dustin, is we literally took the entirety of I think, eight or $900 million of new programs that we have great passion for in the budget I presented in February, and literally took the entirety of that, of those items and put them to the side. Do we want to get there? Please God, we want to get there, but we have to accept the fact that we are in the most unusual time we’ve ever been in. We’ve tried to the best of our ability to preserve. And in some cases, as I mentioned,
Phil Murphy: (36:03)
We’ve tried to the best of our ability to preserve and in some cases, as I mentioned, further invest more deeply in things that address and shrink inequalities in our state. Baby bonds, I announced yesterday, there is lead pipe removal, money in there, but we’re doing the best we can under an extraordinarily challenging hand that we have been dealt.
Phil Murphy: (36:24)
Rob, your answer on how long is it going to take to get the backend organized and together to deal with the different stream of money?
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (36:32)
That’s related to his second question, Governor, which was: Will applicants have to do anything? That’s what we’re still waiting for guidance for from both FEMA and US Department of Labor. It’s a very strange situation to have to deal with both these places, with their own different regulations and rules about applicant eligibility. But in general, I’m going to say it’s probably going to be October, to be honest, before somebody gets their back pay. I don’t want to say back pay, before they get their funding for this. The-
Phil Murphy: (37:00)
Your point is it’s likely to come in and a one lump …
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (37:02)
Right? I mean, given the limits of this DRF fund and the projections we have to try to get it ramped up to have weekly payments when it’s going to end is sort of, quite frankly, silly.
Phil Murphy: (37:14)
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (37:14)
And be more difficult for the claimants themselves. Different claimants, which is part of the problem, are going to have to certify to different things. Not to get too in the weeds, but the program is mandating that it has to be a COVID-related reason for the unemployment. For example, people who are on PUA, the pandemic unemployment assistance, they’ve already self-certified to that to be on PUA, but other regular unemployment claimants or claimants who are on PUC or extended benefits, they have not done that. Obviously, COVID has been very impactful on unemployment, but not everybody is unemployed because of COVID. The FPUC, the 600, was for everybody across the board. This is where they’re going to be slicing and dicing and picking winners and losers.
Phil Murphy: (37:58)
Yeah. I mean, this is something we’ve talked about before. In what is an extraordinarily unusual period of time, this is an extraordinarily unusual program. We all know this, but to repeat the obvious point, Congress has to appropriate. Congress, the Republican Senate went home. You know that phrase go big or go home? They chose door number two. They went home. They did not appropriate anything.
Phil Murphy: (38:21)
I can’t get inside the president’s head, but in the face of that, he looks at, “Okay, what do I already have that’s been appropriated?” One of the few pots of money that fits that description is FEMA money, which is pre-appropriated to sit there, to deal with overwhelmingly natural disasters, storms, et cetera. We’ve got a very good working relationship with them, largely through the office of emergency management under Pat’s leadership, in the governor’s office with Dan Kelly’s leadership, but it completely and utterly until this moment in our history, completely unrelated to unemployment. That’s the reason why this is really, really complicated. Thank you.
Phil Murphy: (39:03)
Brent, good afternoon.
Good afternoon. You mentioned indoor dining there, about a target date. What about movie theaters? Do you have a target date, goal? If not September 14th and 15th, for either of those? Are there special rules for gyms with pools? What about gyms that sell food, like protein shakes? Will people working out at gym’s be allowed to use showers there and are there any other rules for gyms? Two more. You mentioned American Dream, would also I Play America and other, is this like indoor amusement parks that are allowed to reopen?
For the labor commissioner, you said the initial unemployment funding would cover three weeks, but you also said it was based on the money and the FEMA account. Are you saying it won’t last longer than three weeks?
Phil Murphy: (39:47)
I’ll take a first shot, Judy, but I think I’m going to need you to come in here and help me out. No news to report on indoor dining or movie theaters. My guess is, if I had to predict now, they will move at the same time, whenever that is. All I would say is I hadn’t heard the date that Dustin had raised, but I think Judy is agreeing with me just sort of notionally. If the data stays, that we look at, stays as good as it is, I hope we beat that date.
Phil Murphy: (40:14)
Judy, actually, I’m going to go skip down to, I Play America. It does include things like I Play America. Yes.
Indoor amusement park-type places?
Phil Murphy: (40:21)
Yes. I can’t speak for them, what they’re going to do as it relates to next Tuesday, but this executive order does cover exactly that.
Phil Murphy: (40:29)
Judy, I know in the executive order on locker rooms and showers, we want folks to show up in their workout equipment and have limited use and access to locker rooms. But anything else you want to add to either pools or protein shakes, I think was on the list?
Phil Murphy: (40:47)
I think what I might suggest, unless you want to dive into this, has this been posted yet? Not yet. Matt’s saying it yet. Can I ask your favorite? Let’s let this get posted and then we’ll follow up with you because it’s a very dense, complicated executive order with lots of different moving parts.
Phil Murphy: (41:05)
Matt, do you want to add any of that?
Just that showers will not be open. But I agree with you, Governor, once the order and then the subsequent guidance from the department of health comes out, most of these questions should be clear.
Phil Murphy: (41:17)
Can you bear with us on that, Brent? I think I got everything except for Rob.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (41:22)
Just to be clear. The way that the program works, they want us to apply for the first three weeks, one application, and then every week after that is a separate application, which will be funded right at the same rate. Just also to be clear, we are not in a race as far as we can tell against other states for this funding. It seems that FEMA is going to be using a calculation every week about how long this fund is going to last for all the states. I believe they’re going to be at some point saying, “This will be going up through a week six or seven or eight or nine,” whatever it is, and that will be the end of the program.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (41:54)
I’m hopeful that we’re not in a competition with other states for this money. That’s what’s been relayed to us. That’s something that we talk about all the time is trying to figure out this balance. Obviously, with FPUC, like I said, it was great because everyone was eligible. Some times people’s eligibility changes over time. They even want us to predict with them, with our funding request, but how many folks may become eligible for different reasons. I think they’ve been very flexible. I want to make sure that the funding is there and that we have the assurance that we’re going to have the funding for those certain weeks like other states do as well so we’re not in a race against other states for this money.
Phil Murphy: (42:29)
Let me just repeat something I said in my prepared remarks. Can we please ask the Senate to get back into session. Do the work they need to do. The House has done it. Get a bill to the president and asked that the president sign it. That’s the way to cure this incredible, not only challenge that too many individuals measured in the millions in our state are suffering, but around the country, but also gets us out of the spaghetti conundrum that we’re in, in terms of trying to figure out two parallel systems, et cetera. Please, congress, act. Thank you.
Phil Murphy: (43:07)
Sir, anything for you? Yeah. Please.
Speaker 1: (43:10)
Yesterday you announced your support for baby bonds. Given the financial hit from COVID-19, is this responsible at this time? Would children or their parents have access to the money before they turn 18 for any reason? Will the bond continue to mature if the child turns 18 if they don’t withdraw the bond? Thank you.
Phil Murphy: (43:31)
You won’t be probably terribly surprised that we wouldn’t have put something out that we thought was irresponsible. The answer is we think it meets the moment in which we are in, which is we have got to make some very, very tough decisions. You’ve probably noticed that we essentially have ring-fenced education. From pre-K through 12th grade, we have put basically a wall around it. If anything, we threw in a little bit more money into pre-K to expand to future districts.
Phil Murphy: (44:03)
Every one of these steps is a tough call. Dustin asked about some stuff, which was all long list of priorities that we had in the February budget, which we were incredibly excited about, which we just had to put to the side. But you can’t ignore tomorrow. For all that we have in the here and now, all that we have right before us, you’ve got to, you can’t ignore what’s the state going to look like when we emerge? What’s the next generation going to look like?
Phil Murphy: (44:33)
That’s probably a fair mantra, even in an equitable society. But when you look at the inequities that have been laid bare by this virus, when you look at everything from George Floyd now to Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, we would be abrogating, I feel strongly, our responsibility to not put things in place that we know will directly readdress some of those inequities. This program is exactly that.
Phil Murphy: (45:10)
It does continue to mature after you’re 18. I think there are emergency reasons that you can get access to the money before you’re 18. We’ll come back to you to confirm that. By the way, it’s not exactly an overwhelming, it’s not going to solve everything. It’s a fairly modest step, but it’s a symbolically and incredibly important step.
Phil Murphy: (45:35)
One of our African American colleagues said to me, “You cannot underestimate the psychological bridge that this builds with kids and their families. I guess the kids are not born yet, but the families who just are in too many cases, particularly in communities of color, economically disadvantaged communities that are under-banked. The notion of an account being there for anybody, let alone a kid on day one, is psychologically, in addition to the financial elements and aspects of this, it psychologically puts a family into a different place. Thank you for that.
Phil Murphy: (46:13)
We’ll go up, back and then we’ll come down to you, Daniel.
Speaker 2: (46:19)
Hello, Governor. I have one from Michael Hill for you and the colonel. Is there a specific strategy to curb the violence in Trenton and other than major New Jersey cities that have seen an uptick in shootings in recent weeks? Then one from a viewer. When can we expect the DMV to go back to normal, where all locations are providing all services and not just some locations providing certain items?
Phil Murphy: (46:47)
I don’t have an answer for you on the second one. We’ll come back to you on that. I think in terms of the DMV going back to normal at all locations, we’re continuing to chop through the tsunami of the backlog. It certainly isn’t normal. Folks are frustrated. I don’t blame them. The folks there are doing a great job. I have to repeat, once you get inside, it’s a finely-tuned Swiss watch, including from hygiene and social distancing and all the protocols you’d expect. But folks are frustrated. I don’t blame them. The employees there are doing everything they can, but this is not where it needs to be yet. But I don’t have an answer for you on that. Dan, make sure we follow up if there’s a date. I don’t believe there is.
Phil Murphy: (47:33)
I would just say on violence, and, Pat, I’ll turn it over to you, it’s sort of the, it seems to me, the perfect storm of a lot of stuff coming together, a lot of folks unemployed. You got the Toronto Raptors considering boycotting a playoff series against the Boston Celtics. People are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. How many more people can we see shot in the back, in particular persons of color? I mean, people have had it. Then you add that to unemployment, pandemic, stay at home, all the mental health stresses, warm, hot weather.
Phil Murphy: (48:08)
I know one thing we’ve done and we continue to do, I guess, two things and, Pat, I’ll turn to you, one is we want to be the nation’s safest state as it relates to gun safety. We’ve made an enormous amount of progress on that front. It’s quite clear we have a ways to go. Please, God, the nation could take some steps that would make it a lot easier for us here in New Jersey and safer. Secondly, deepening and, Pat, if nothing else, the colonel and the attorney general their legacy will be in so many respects defined by the deepening of relations between law enforcement and communities they serve and continuing to walk in each other’s shoes and understand the burdens that each side and responsibilities have. The more of that we do, the better off we will be. That’s not just in Trenton where we lost, listen, the five of us lost a colleague to gun violence last Saturday. This hits close to the bone, but it is not, sadly, only in Trenton.
Phil Murphy: (49:13)
Pat, anything you want to weigh in on?
Colonel Patrick Callahan: (49:15)
Yeah. Thank you, Governor. I’ll just add what we refer to as violent crime initiatives. We work with county prosecutors to local police departments, the county prosecutor’s office, the US attorney’s office. It’s a multiple-pronged approach. I mean, in Trenton, for instance, we have marked patrols from our tactical patrol units in Trenton a few days a week. We have plainclothes detectives working shoulder to shoulder with what we call our crime suppression unit. I think even preventative-wise, I think the intervention programs that have to happen in schools to break these cycles, the tendency for victims to end up to leave an emergency room and be a shooter or end up another victim again, the numbers are staggering in that regard. It is a multiple-pronged approach that we, to the governor’s point, we want to be the safest state in the United States. The efforts are daily 24/7 with federal, state, county and our local partners.
Phil Murphy: (50:17)
By the way, you never pat yourself on the back of this one, but I don’t think any state in America has the level of engagement between law enforcement and the communities they serve as New Jersey does. That does not mean it’s a perfect picture, and that does not mean that more progress must be made. It must and it will. But we start, in an extraordinary moment in our nation, we start in a better place than most. But please, God.
Phil Murphy: (50:48)
I’ll go back to the question about baby bonds. That’s not going to solve next weekend in Trenton, but there are a lot of kids who were born 18 or 20 years ago, who if they had a little bit more wind in their sails from moment one, a little bit more, some helping hand that could have put them into a different and better spot, who knows what would be happening today? If nothing else, for 18 or 20 years from now, that’s one, it’s not a huge step, but it’s a modest step that God willing can put communities into better places.
Phil Murphy: (51:19)
Daniel, good afternoon. We’re coming at you.
Hi, Governor. For you, with the bonding, why put away half the money into a rainy day fund with the half, the four billion? We’ve been hearing this a lot from readers, but why not borrow more rather than enacting these proposed tax increases?
For the labor commissioner, what do you mean when you say the state’s department of labor can’t use state resources to apply for the federal unemployment? Are you saying there are people who might not see their money coming in until October, and will the people who got $600 checks that won’t be getting that money, this new form of money?
Also, with your workplace safety standards through the executive order, are there holds in your department to make sure that those standards are being enforced, COVID-19 related standards for essential and non-essential businesses? Is the current system of divvying up the complaints from the EO violation form and sending them to individual county prosecutors and health departments, is that actually effective and working? What are the exact areas that need improvement within that current system?
Phil Murphy: (52:34)
Is that it?
Phil Murphy: (52:35)
I’ll do the first one. Robin, I think the rest of them are over to you.
Phil Murphy: (52:39)
Listen, we’re trying to strike a balance here. We’re already per capita one of the most indebted states in America. I don’t wake up reflexively wild about borrowing, but we have no choice. I’m grateful to the legislature to helping us allow us to that and to the Supreme Court’s decision. Unanimous, I might add. This is a period of unprecedented fiscal crisis compared only to the great depression and the civil war. That’s not company you want to keep. It’s a balance. It’s also a one-off step. We need recurring both revenues that make sense and recurring expense reductions. The majority of the expense we’ve discussed already today, some of them are very painful. The majority of the expense reductions are recurring and we have put forth a series of revenue items that will also be recurring. We need that. We have made a lot of progress chopping through our structural deficits. I view this as a moment in time that is not back to old habits. This is just, we have no choice.
Phil Murphy: (53:50)
I’m going to be speaking to the rating agencies tomorrow. That’s a theme I’m going to express that this was a balanced solution to an extraordinarily challenging reality, including recurring revenues, recurring expen-
Phil Murphy: (54:03)
… reality, including recurring revenues, recurring expense reductions, bonding now, but with a plan to deal with that. And by the way, not yet scoring a dime for federal cash assistance. And I would just repeat that we, and not just New Jersey, every American state is desperate, red and blue alike for federal direct, federal cash assistance. So it isn’t just to undo the Rubik’s cube of unemployment benefits, but it’s to states directly as well. Rob, with that on the several questions that Daniel asked.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (54:35)
I appreciate the questions. First of all, on the workplace safety, as you may know, we don’t have private sector jurisdiction here in New Jersey. So right now all those guidance that’s handled by my colleague Commissioner [Burakelly’s 00:54:47] office. So I’ll leave it to her if she has a follow up, that’s for now. And also just to be very clear that when I’m talking about USDOL or FEMA, I have such respect for all my federal colleagues, and I think they’d been just put in a bad spot, and not given the tools they need, whether it be at OSHA or anywhere else to help keep workers safe and funded through unemployment.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (55:06)
To your questions about why can’t we use state funding. This is part of the problem. This is a FEMA program, but USDOL is very specific and very emphatic that no USDOL unemployment administrative funding can be used for this program.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (55:22)
Now, why does that matter? Because every single person, every claims adjuster, every administrative person, every IT professional, every phone bank person, are all funded 100% through UI administrative funds. Even the folks we brought in from other departments, might work for Treasury, or for our Wage Hour Department, or for our Workforce Development Department, the second they started doing UI work, they are 100% funded by the UI Administrative Fund, and they can not be working on this FEMA Lost Wages Program. That’s why this is so difficult. They can’t be using the same bank account as our UI Trust Fund. Again, I do not blame my counterparts at USDOL or FEMA for this. They have been handed something that’s difficult too. As difficult as it is for us to implement, it’s also difficult for them to implement to us.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (56:09)
I think your question was also, yes, I would say I’m trying to give us some space, I would say October. Just also, because I think it makes more sense to finish out whatever the full funding is going to be for the total weeks. Rather than having people worry about what week I got it, what week I didn’t. Overall, I think that’ll be easier for everybody. And I know that’s not what someone wants to hear who wants their money now. I completely understand that.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (56:34)
And my other goal is hoping that at some way, if somehow, that this does get fixed, the [Fpuck 00:56:39] does get extended, then we won’t have to worry about this at all. They’ll be able to give them, through our regular unemployment system, the $600 Fpuck supplement, because as your questions asked, the folks who got the $600 are not all eligible for $300, adding further complication to all of this.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (56:54)
Because one, they might not make a hundred dollars for weekly base amount, or they might not have certified, to a COVID-related reason for their unemployment, or maybe whatever application process we need to come up with, they may not answer or whatever, whether it be an email, or a new certification process, especially for those back weeks, they need to affirmatively take a step now. Whereas the folks for the Fpuck, they don’t need to anything, if they they got, or were eligible for unemployment that week for any reason, for any of the programs, they were eligible for 600. This is not the same thing.
Just so I understand correctly-
Phil Murphy: (57:26)
Real quick Daniel.
Just so I understand correctly, the soonest this 300 a week will come in is October, and not everyone’s going to be getting it?
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (57:32)
I want to be very clear that anyone who is eligible for it will be getting it. And my point is that the eligibility requirements from FEMA for this program are different than the eligibility required requirements were for USDOL for the Fpuck. Anybody in New Jersey who’s eligible will be getting this money.
Phil Murphy: (57:49)
Thank you, Daniel. Dave, good afternoon.
Hi governor. The CDC is no longer advising quarantines for traveling among the different states. And they’ve also reduced recommended quarantine times from 14 to 10 days. Why is New Jersey continuing to tell people from many states to quarantine, and why have we kept the quarantine time at 14 days? Also, have you guys considered handing out either pamphlets or information sheets at airports, bus stops, traveling centers on highways, and so forth? Because I know somebody who just came back from Florida, they came, they flew in, nothing. They just walked in. Of the schools getting reopening plans kicked back by the Department of Education, why is this happening? Is it mostly clerical mistakes? Or is it something else? Where the plans kicked back because schools wanted to go remote, but their justification was not strong enough for the DOE to approve this? For the health folks has anybody looked at or figured out if COVID can be passed person-to-person through sweat, perspiration? What message do we want to send to everyone who excitedly will be heading back into the gym? And finally, governor, have you considered handing out protein shakes or bars to the reporters covering this update? Thank you.
Phil Murphy: (59:19)
I will take the last question under advisement. And I will sit with Dr. [Tan 00:59:25] and her people in epidemiological assessment. I’ll just tick through, I’m going to go in reverse order, the message to anybody going to the gym is do the right thing, right? So it’s pretty clear. This is a very thick executive order. And then Judy and team will put guidance on the back of that. Basically it’s thick, but not complicated. Wear a face mask, come dressed, leave dressed preferably, stay away from other people. Sign in, give your information. It’s very basic stuff. Just, I would say to folks do the right thing. I don’t think there’s any evidence on sweat unless Dr. Tan tells me otherwise. So sweat is not an issue. This is a particle airborne.
Phil Murphy: (01:00:15)
Reopening plans is going to cover a variety of reasons. I don’t want to speak to Kevin [Deemer 01:00:18], but there’s no one big thing that’s driving this, and I suspect, and I’ll ask him, and Dan, Brian will keep us honest, if the answer is differently, my guess is it’s a whole spectrum of different reasons. And no one, everything from I’m sure clerical, all the way up to legitimate questions about their plans.
Phil Murphy: (01:00:40)
I’m happy with 14 days quarantining because that’s the incubation period, unless I’m told otherwise, but I’d take any advice from my health colleagues to the right on that. So I had not seen the CDC reduction from 14 to 10, but Tina should talk about that.
Phil Murphy: (01:00:56)
And anything else that you believe we should be handing out or we are handing out… We don’t see any evidence right now, and I’m going to knock on wood, unless you two disagree, that there is out of state stuff coming back to New Jersey that is a source of flare ups right now. I will say that. And Judy and or Tina can disagree, but any comments you have on 14 days or versus 10, et cetera?
Dr. Tan: (01:01:21)
Governor you’re correct. The quarantine is based on the outer limit of the incubation period. So it is still 14 days. I wonder whether the 10 day might be in reference to the isolation discontinuation, which is a little bit different, because remember isolation refers to people who have been diagnosed as cases, versus quarantine refers to people who were exposed, who did not become ill.
Phil Murphy: (01:01:47)
Thank you. Thank you. [Nakita 01:01:52], you take us out today.
Will do. So the budget that you proposed yesterday included a $4.9 billion pension payment. That’s more than a billion more than it was last year and the year before. It was also suggested yesterday that you might, or that you should skip all or part of that pension payment. Do you view the 4.9 billion number as negotiable? And if so, what’s the minimum payment that you would agree to? Separately, how much time are you spending each week as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association? And do you have any-
Phil Murphy: (01:02:26)
That’s an unrelated question, right?
Phil Murphy: (01:02:27)
Unrelated to the pension payment?
Phil Murphy: (01:02:29)
And do you have any plans between now and November 3rd to go and campaign for democratic gubernatorial candidates? And again, separately, have you watched any of the Republican National Convention? And as a former ambassador, do you believe that it was appropriate for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to address the convention from Jerusalem where he was on official business?
Phil Murphy: (01:02:55)
You have certainly picked four very diverse questions. I’ll do the back three. And then I’m glad you asked about the pension payments. I’ll do that last if it’s okay.
Phil Murphy: (01:03:09)
I spend typically, and its entirely phone or Zoom, a few hours a week for the DGA, and it’s typically raising money. But it is, in fact I just had a note come into me on something specific related to that. And in some cases it’s going over races and allocating that money, but it’s more the former than the latter, but it’s not a lot of hours. It’s two or three hours a week probably at this point.
Phil Murphy: (01:03:38)
I have not watched any of the, I’ve seen a couple of highlights, have not watched any of the Republican Convention. I’ve heard some stories, but I’ve not watched any of it. If I can, I will try to watch the president’s speech, which I guess is tomorrow night.
Phil Murphy: (01:03:57)
I think it’s, what the Secretary of State, has he already done this? Or this is this tonight?
It was last night’s [inaudible 01:04:03].
Phil Murphy: (01:04:04)
Was it last night?
Phil Murphy: (01:04:05)
Completely inappropriate, completely inappropriate. I mean, there’s something called the Hatch Act, which is clear as a bell in terms of government folks getting involved in political activities. And that’s especially, I think true for the diplomats of the members of the State Department, nevermind its leader; completely inappropriate. I don’t even know what he said, but the notion that that’s what he’s doing is just completely inappropriate.
Phil Murphy: (01:04:34)
So if the pension payment in the budget is $4.9 billion, then the minimum amount that I’m prepared to make in the final deal is $4.9 billion period. There’s no negotiating room. And it is a billion dollars more, but about 300 million of that billion is an actuarial true-up that gets done every few years. So the actual increase, and I think you know this, is about the year-over-year, is about a seven hundreds-ish million dollar payment with another $300 million true up. And we chose to take that pain right now. We could have spread that out over a few years, but I don’t even want to go near that.
Phil Murphy: (01:05:24)
So it was suggested, I think your colleague interviewed, I’m not saying this for a political reason, but Jack Ciattarelli was, I mean hello, at every single level that is incredibly dumb. That’s exactly what got us into the mess that we’re in today that I got elected to fix. When in doubt, let’s figure out how to not make the pension payment, and then kick the can down the road, which by the way, guess what, that’s more borrowing at very high rates. I’m not wild about borrowing, but the borrowing we’re doing that, we announced yesterday, is probably 2% interest rate. That’s about as good as it’s ever going to get. Nevermind the beneficiaries of the payments from the pension fund who have done their side of the bargain, every single step of the way, to only be let down by the state yet again. I mean, this is classic old way of doing things in this town that got us into the mess that we’re in that I got elected to fix.
Phil Murphy: (01:06:30)
I’m going to be with the rating agencies tomorrow. If all of what I’ve said isn’t enough, they view it literally, almost I wouldn’t say pari passu, but virtually pari passu with a debt obligation, almost as a legal matter, which is why we have made every year with Ben here, the painful, trust me, it’s painful, we’re now 80% of the way, assuming we get this all over the goal line, to getting ultimately to the point where we don’t have to increase it every year, it stays there, and ultimately over time starts to go down.
Phil Murphy: (01:07:07)
So I think it’s… I can’t even believe people are raising it. The house is on fire, how did it start? Let’s go back to figuring out of what we did to start the fire, and do it again. It makes literally no sense. Matt, you want to add anything to that. Dan? How I really feel about that. Judy, I’m going to mask up here as we get our papers together. Thank you, Judy and Tina, as always. Pat, Rob, good to have you back. I assume either you personally, or I will on your behalf will keep folks posted as to what the application turnaround looks like, and exactly what we’re doing to actually make this happen.
Rob Asaro-Angelo: (01:07:52)
Each class of claimant essentially will know what their instruction are.
Phil Murphy: (01:07:56)
Yep, and so we’ll make sure folks know exactly what to do with this. Pat, as always, and again to you and the attorney general, that was a sadly, but a timely gathering on that, or initiative action on that. Keep up that great work. Jared has left us. Matt and Dan, thank you.
Phil Murphy: (01:08:13)
Again, tomorrow we’ll be with you virtually. Friday, I will be with you on the road, and Judy will be with me, and Pat and Tina in spirit. And I will speak on our behalf. I’ll probably have a quick update on what the unemployment numbers tomorrow look like. As we know the nation comes out, and New Jersey is no exception, with the unemployment updates on Thursdays. And then I’ll also have probably on Friday, whatever the overnight health information is.
Phil Murphy: (01:08:40)
We’ll be virtual over the weekend unless Dan or [Mahan 01:08:43] tell us otherwise. And then we’ll be back together on Monday, time TBD as it relates to the White House.
Phil Murphy: (01:08:49)
Again, to everybody out there, thank you. I know the gym owners are over the moon that we finally have gotten to this. I know folks who go to gyms are thrilled. I will tell you, I am relieved, Judy is relieved that we’ve been able to get there. And we know you’ll deal with it responsibly folks, because you have done so much responsibly already, but as you go to the gyms and the indoor amusement parks do the right thing, keep up the extraordinary work. God bless you all and thank you.