Gov. Phil Murphy has vetoed legislation that would have appropriated $30 million in federal CARES Act funds to restaurants, bars and caterers that suffered financial losses after he reversed his decision to allow indoor dining to resume July 2.

The bill (S-2704 / A-4413) would have reimbursed business owners who had spent money on food and supplies in preparation for a July 2 reopening authorized under Executive Order 157 that Murphy rescinded at the last minute with Executive Order 158. Limited indoor dining with a 25% capacity limit and other restrictions was finally allowed on Sept. 4.

In his absolute veto message, Murphy noted Phase 3 of NJEDA’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program will be providing $70 million in federal CARES Act funding for small businesses, and $35 million of that amount has been set aside exclusively for restaurants and bars.  The governor said he vetoed the bill because “the goals of this legislation have already been achieved.”

Under the NJEDA program, only restaurants with 50 or less employees may apply for emergency assistance grants.

Senator Anthony Bucco, R-25, criticized the governor’s action, saying the veto was a “slap in the face to an industry that is struggling to survive.”

“Based on Governor Murphy’s personal guidance, restaurants invested a significant amount of money, often on personal credit cards, to restock in anticipation of resuming indoor dining on July 2nd,” said Bucco, a Senate sponsor of the bill.

“When the governor reversed course at the last moment, those restaurants suffered steep losses that they could ill afford. It’s unbelievable that Governor Murphy would veto targeted relief funds to cover losses that restaurants incurred to comply with his changing executive orders.”

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-21, also criticized the governor’s veto.

“It is unthinkable that the governor would veto bipartisan legislation to help restaurants that passed unanimously in both houses,” said Bramnick, a sponsor of the bill in the Assembly. “We all know how difficult it has been for the restaurant business, and some owners said that they were out thousands of dollars due to the change. Restaurants are barely getting by.”

4 responses to “Governor Vetoes Bill to Provide $30 Million to Restaurants Burned by Reversal of July 2 Reopening Decision”

  1. Dan says:

    The King has spoken. To have allowed S-2704 would have been an admission that he does not care about the businesses he damaged with his flip-flopping on reopening the economy. We live in a “nannie” state people. Your success lives and dies under the King’s signature.

  2. EDMUNDAS SVEDAS Sr. says:

    King Murphy HAS TO GO!!!!

  3. RUTH says:

    You should be ashamed of yourself Govern Murphy! You were doing a decent job with the handling of the pandemic, however your decision not to reimburse the restaurant businesses is appalling.

  4. Are there restaurants that have struggled, sure. But a great number of them have done very well this summer. Our firm has worked with a number of them to be creative and figure things out. From innovative take out options, to outdoor dining designs that try to make sure people dont feel like they are dining in parking lots, our towns are working it out. Dont cry, try!

    The Governor’s reversal hurt that weekend for sure. While he and staff did not seem to consider restaurant logistics, the restaurants we work with recovered from that faux pa.

    The trick will be to figure out the winter, which instead of bashing people as is typical these days, we’re figuring it out. We KNOW we are our own, but we’re doing it together. Its messy, its confrontational at times, but we’re doing it.