Senate Republicans Launch “Give It Back” Initiative

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New Jersey Senate Republicans are launching the “Give It Back” initiative to give New Jerseyans an opportunity to tell Governor Phil Murphy in a unified voice to give back everything he has taken from them over the past two years.

“Governor Murphy has taken so much from New Jerseyans since the start of the pandemic,” said Senate Republican Leader Steven Oroho (R-24). “He’s taken money, he’s taken power, and he’s taken rights, choices, and freedoms from every single New Jerseyan. We’re going to help New Jerseyans to send him the message that it’s time to Give It Back.”

Senate Republicans will engage the public to join the Give It Back initiative through traditional and social media, direct outreach, and an online petition where New Jerseyans can join the movement and demonstrate their support.

“It’s clear that people are fed up with all of the executive orders and mandates, but Governor Murphy stubbornly refuses to listen,” said Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13). “For all of the things Governor Murphy has taken from each of us, we’re going to help New Jerseyans to tell him in a unified voice he can’t ignore, ‘Give It Back.’”

The senators are asking New Jerseyans to post short videos on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram telling Governor Murphy what he’s taken from them, and to give it back. Social posts can be shared with the #GiveItBack hashtag.

“It’s not just Republicans who think Governor Murphy has gone too far, there’s an increasing number of Democrats who realize they’ve let the governor take too much from them under the false premise he could keep them safe,” added Senator Michael Testa (R-1). “More and more New Jerseyans are realizing they’re not better off for having given up their parental rights, their vaccine choice, or all of the other freedoms that were stripped away by executive order. We encourage every single New Jerseyan to join us in telling Governor Murphy to ‘Give It Back.’”

The online petition can be signed at

Your Money: GIVE IT BACK!

Governor Murphy took an extra $3+ billion in tax collections this year from New Jerseyans that the state wasn’t expecting and doesn’t need. He must give back that money to New Jersey’s overburdened taxpayers.

Your Voice: GIVE IT BACK!

Governor Murphy took power from the people and their elected legislators by granting himself emergency powers and ruling by executive order. He must give back the power and stop the mandates.

Parental Rights: GIVE IT BACK!

Governor Murphy took away parental rights by issuing mask mandates for toddlers and children in school and day care. He must give parents back their rights to make important decisions for their children and families.

COVID Vaccine Choice: GIVE IT BACK!

Governor Murphy took vaccine choice from government employees, health care workers, and many others by threatening their jobs if they don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. He must give back vaccine choice to New Jerseyans who shouldn’t have to trade their medical freedom for the right to earn a living.

Economic Freedom: GIVE IT BACK!

Governor Murphy took economic freedom through orders and mandates that destroyed one-third of New Jersey’s small business and still threaten many more. He must give back economic freedom and the right to make important decisions to the employers of millions of New Jerseyans who are struggling to stay in business

Safe Streets: GIVE IT BACK!

Governor Murphy took away our safe streets by releasing 40% of the inmates from state prisons, leading to a surge in crime. He must give back our safe streets by stopping his dangerous plan to release more criminals into our communities.

Testa on Murphy’s Funding Announcement for Anti-Crime Technology

Senator Michael Testa responded to Governor Murphy’s announcement that $7 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds will be used to fund the purchase of acoustic sensors and gunshot detection technologies, video cameras, and automatic license plate readers to help law enforcement respond to a surge of crime across the state.

“Governor Murphy just let 40% of the prisoners out of our jails, and now he’s spending millions so police can track the people he released who are out on the streets committing crimes again,” said Testa (R-1). “The governor’s progressive logic is dizzying.”

Testa warned earlier this week that a new round of prisoner releases and pandemic mandates by the Murphy administration will make New Jersey less safe.

Testa Slams Murphy’s Muted Announcement of $3,000 in New Debt for Every Man, Woman & Child in New Jersey

Budget Committee Senator Asks What Happened to Governor’s Promise Last Year to Reduce State Debt by $2.5 billion?

Senator Michael Testa slammed the Murphy administration for an extremely muted announcement last week that the State’s long-term debt had grown by $26 billion despite the governor’s promise to cut billions in debt this year.

“The $26 billion increase in debt quietly unveiled by the Murphy administration last week amounts to a new $3,000 financial burden for every man, woman, and child in New Jersey,” said Testa (R-1), a member of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee. “While the truth was only revealed through obscure financial documents submitted to Wall Street, people on Main Street also deserve to know how much new debt they’re on the hook for under Governor Murphy. It’s a total failure of transparency that’s shocking even for the extremely secretive Murphy administration.”

In financial disclosure documents filed quietly by the Murphy administration with the financial marketplace last week, the State reported an increase of almost $26 billion in its long-term debt.

Almost half of this new debt is due to the State previously underreporting the true costs of public employee health benefits. Additionally, over the past year, the Murphy administration has borrowed almost $700 million to pay unemployment benefit claims due to an insolvent state Unemployment Compensation Fund. The administration also is in the process of advancing $1.1 billion in debt for transportation and other projects.

Testa noted that Governor Murphy promised last year that he would reduce State debt by $2.5 billion through funding set asides in the current FY 2022 State Budget.

Despite those promises, the State Treasurer has not produced a report as required by law explaining how the $2.5 billion was used, though the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services has verified that almost all of the money has been transferred by the State to various banks.

“While Governor Murphy made an election-year promise to cut State debt by $2.5 billion, we’re now learning after his reinauguration that our long-term debt has actually grown by an astonishing $26 billion,” added Testa. “None of what’s been reported in financial disclosures to Wall Street or to the Legislature squares with what Governor Murphy has said publicly. The Murphy administration’s lack of candor and transparency begs lots of questions about the true state of New Jersey’s finances.”

Testa: Murphy’s Pandemic Prison Policies Putting Communities, Corrections Officers at Risk

Senator Michael Testa warned that a new round of prisoner releases and pandemic mandates by the Murphy administration will make New Jersey less safe and put corrections officers at risk.

“Governor Murphy used the cover of the pandemic to release 40% of the inmates from New Jersey’s prisons over the last two years,” said Testa (R-1). “With thousands of inmates set free without effective oversight or support, it’s no surprise that some of our cities are struggling with record levels of violent crimes.”

According to, more than 5,300 prisoners were released early from incarceration during the initial COVID-related public health emergency that stretched from March 2020 to June 2021.

Following the mass releases, Paterson set records for homicides in each of the last two years, as reported by The Record.

The Murphy administration has said that another wave of prisoner releases can be expected following Governor Murphy’s declaration of a new public health emergency earlier this month.

“Early release has proven to be a tragically bad policy for some of New Jersey’s urban communities,” said Testa. “Governor Murphy has a responsibility to stop the problem he created from getting worse.”

Testa also pointed to another pandemic policy that risks putting corrections officers in greater danger inside the walls of our prisons.

Last week, Governor Murphy followed his new emergency declaration with another executive order imposing a stricter vaccine mandate for corrections officers that eliminates a testing alternative to vaccination.

Under the order, officers who don’t comply with the vaccination requirement would be fired from their jobs, even if they have naturally acquired immunity from a prior infection, which is scientifically proven to offer protection similar to or greater than that achieved through vaccination.

In response, the State PBA, which represents corrections officers, said they’re going to take the Murphy administration to court to challenge the order.

“Corrections officers know that the new vaccine mandate puts their safety at risk if they don’t have enough staff to keep our prisons under control,” added Testa. “Maybe Governor Murphy thinks it won’t matter if he fires a bunch of prison guards since he’s letting all of the inmates out anyway. One thing’s for sure, the governor’s pandemic prison policies will make New Jersey less safe for everyone.”

Testa Says Murphy Wrong to Compare Being Unvaccinated to Drunk Driving

Senator Michael Testa said Governor Phil Murphy was wrong to say that being unvaccinated is “akin to drunk driving.”

“Governor Murphy is absolutely wrong to compare being unvaccinated to driving drunk, especially when Omicron is both infecting and being transmitted by vaccinated people at high rates,” said Testa (R-1). “It’s telling that he’s now resorting to increasingly extreme rhetoric to try to justify his unpopular and unscientific vaccine mandates. Republicans are constantly accused of not following the science, yet it’s the governor who repeatedly refuses to accept data that doesn’t support his executive orders.”

Testa Blasts Rutgers for Forcing Students & Taxpayers to Pay for Athletics’ $73M Deficit

Senator Michael Testa blasted Rutgers University for forcing overburdened students and New Jersey taxpayers to pick up the tab for a $73 million deficit after spending on athletics reached a record high of $118 million during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Once again, taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars are being wasted to pay for Rutgers’ costly and highly publicized financial woes,” said Testa (R-1). “Here we have an athletics department that spends so much money, it rang up a $73 million deficit for the second consecutive year while increasing overall spending to an all-time high. Adding insult to injury, all of this irresponsible spending occurred during a time when so many New Jerseyans and our small businesses were suffering financially.”

According to the NCAA, Rutgers athletics received more university support during 2020-21 than any other public university in a major conference. Direct subsidies and state aid reached nearly $43 million but, athletics still found a way to create a shortfall of more than $30 million. During this time, coaching salaries continued to rise, increasing to $25.5 million.

During the last fiscal year, which occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, athletics spending reached an all-time high of $118 million. In total, Rutgers athletics has racked up $265 million in overall debt.

“Rutgers is first and foremost an academic institution which must stay focused on preparing all of its students toward a prosperous future, not saddled with debt,” said Testa. “Athletic successes should be about fond memories carried forward, not a bloated loan bill which exists long after the cheers fade.”

“Everyone—especially State officials—must bear in mind the outrageous cost and scope of this scandal the next time Rutgers comes mortarboard in hand to request more taxpayer dollars or announces that tuition and fees are again on the rise,” added Testa. “Permitting such reckless financial behavior is an extreme disservice to all New Jerseyans both now and for our future.”