The budget, however, required the administration to itemize expenditures to the JBOC.
“The NJSP is responsible for the security and transportation of state officials, including the governor and lieutenant governor,” the Treasury Department memo said. “As part of their many responsibilities, these officials provide leadership and support to the state’s COVID-19 recovery efforts at vaccination sites, hospitals, nursing homes, care facilities long-term and other affected sites.”
The purchases were also briefly mentioned in the Murphy administration report. New Jersey stimulus report last summer, although they did not attract any scrutiny at the time.
The eight Chevrolet Suburbans are for the Executive Protection Unit, according to Private Charles Marchan, a state police spokesman.
“U.S. bailout funding was used to purchase eight Chevrolet Suburbans that went to the State Police Executive Protection Unit to meet the travel needs of government officials, including COVID-related commitments. 19 such as vaccination site visits, hospital visits and pandemic meetings,” Marchan said in a statement.
The Treasury Department memo says the state is eligible to use the funds under a federal regulation that allows them “costs to improve the design and delivery of programs responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.” and to administer or improve the effectiveness of programs directed to the public”. health emergency or its negative economic impacts.
Assembly Member Hal Wirths (R-Sussex), a JBOC member and the Assembly’s Minority Budget Director, said the link between spending and the pandemic is “overblown”.
“It’s legal, but I think it’s not the intent of federal law to buy vehicles. Especially now. That’s what frustrated us so much, as budget director, is the slowness in getting that money out,” Wirths said, referring to Republican complaints that the state government, controlled by Democrats , has been slow to appropriate federal coronavirus relief funds.
“I don’t think it’s a priority, especially so late after Covid,” Wirths said. “If they did it two or three years ago, you might have a little more argument.”