Economy

New Jersey governor says state economy will be recovering from virus 'for years'

Key Points
  • "Every state needs direct federal cash assistance to allow us to continue to employ these vitally needed folks, to allow our state to get back on its feet, to help our small businesses, restaurants. We have no other choice," Phil Murphy said.
  • The New Jersey Democrat said the Trump administration's threat to withhold education funding from schools that did not reopen in the fall did not factor into the state's decision about what to do for schools. 
  • Murphy signed legislation authorizing furloughs for state workers earlier in July. 
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on preparing for second Covid-19 wave

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that the recovery from the coronavirus-induced recession will take years for his state and urged the federal government to provide fiscal relief for state and local governments. 

"We're going to be digging out of this as an economic matter, my guess is, for years," Murphy said on CNBC's "Closing Bell."

The coronavirus pandemic has hit state budgets on two fronts, with governments shouldering some of the burden for rising medical and unemployment costs while also facing a dramatic decline in tax receipts. Murphy signed legislation authorizing furloughs for state workers earlier in July. 

The Democrat said every state in the U.S. is facing similar issues, not just New Jersey, which is regularly near the top of lists for states with unwieldy pension obligations. Some Republican leaders have said that federal support for states shouldn't be a bailout for states with large pension obligations. 

Murphy said state and local governments would lose front-line workers such as firefighters if they do not get federal help to fill budget holes. 

"Every state needs direct federal cash assistance to allow us to continue to employ these vitally needed folks, to allow our state to get back on its feet, to help our small businesses, restaurants. We have no other choice," he said.

Another area of concern for states is the start of school in the fall, with threats from the Trump administration to pull educational funding for schools that don't meet in person. Murphy said that New Jersey leaders would like to have in-person education but that the federal government's position on funding was not a factor in the decisions to come. 

"The threats are not our consideration. Our consideration is public health, mental health, education," Murphy said. 

New Jersey was one of the hardest-hit states during the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in the United States. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the state has had more than 176,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 15,000 deaths. 

The rate of new confirmed cases has declined significantly in the state in recent months, with the Department of Health reporting less than 400 new cases for July 14.