Why Gov. Murphy just vetoed this NJ unemployment benefits bill. What to know.
NJ. Governor Phil Murphy relaxed indoor dining restrictions from 25 to 35 percent. NorthJersey.com
Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday vetoed a bill to give certain unemployed workers eight additional weeks of jobless benefits, saying the bill was not needed because it duplicated federal programs that were extended in December.
The federal law added 11 weeks of eligibility for certain workers through March 14.
"These extensions ensure that more than 500,000 New Jersey residents will continue to receive critical unemployment assistance to help them stay afloat during these challenging times," the veto reads. "As a result, this bill, while well-intentioned, is no longer necessary."
When they sent the bill to Murphy's desk in December, New Jersey lawmakers acknowledged S3283/A5151 was a "stopgap measure" that could be replaced if federal legislators agreed to a stimulus package.
Both chambers passed the bill unanimously.
At the time, legislators in Washington, D.C., were fiercely battling over details of another round of aid and benefits expansion in the final weeks of Trump's presidency.
The Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which oversees New Jersey's unemployment program, has received just shy of 2 million initial claims for benefits since the pandemic began nearly a year ago.
Murphy also warned that enacting such a bill would jeopordize New Jersey's Unemployment Compensation Fund, noting that expanding eligibility can only be done by Congress.
New Jersey gave out similar emergency extensions in the past — 10 weeks in 2001-2002, and 13 weeks in 1991 and in 1996.
Murphy's veto says those times were different, however, because they extended benefits without changing eligibility rules — for example, they did not apply to independent contractors or self-employed workers who are now receiving benefits thanks to changes in federal law.
Stacey Barchenger is a reporter in the New Jersey Statehouse. For unlimited access to her work covering New Jersey’s policymakers and political power structure, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.