New Jersey’s Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, Brenda Fulton, faced heavy criticism for her handling of the beleaguered agency, during an Assembly Budget Committee hearing this afternoon in Trenton.
The agency, which has had its fair share of complaints even before the Cornavirus pandemic, has consistently placed on the top of the list of governmental agencies in need of reform by most New Jerseyans.
Fulton, who was nominated to the post by Governor Murphy on February 20, 2018 and sworn in a month later, heard complains from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle this afternoon, with an extra focus placed on the wait times residents are forced to endure when trying to obtain even simple documents.
“If I were you, I wouldn’t be happy about having 60 days waiting for any type of transaction,” Committee Chair Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex), told Fulton.
Other members of the committee pressed Fulton over the long lines which plagued the agency for months when they finally started reopening in-person appointments in late 2020.
In many instances, people had no choice but to wait online overnight as they awaited their documents.
In her defense, Fulton cited employee absences due to the pandemic, noting that roughly only 60 to 65% of full-time employees are on site, down from 80% on any given day prior to the pandemic.
“No one’s waiting more than a week, unless they’ve never had a license before,” Fulton said. “That is where we’re working at the 55-day wait.”
Fulton also noted that many commuters ditched mass transit with the onset of the pandemic and purchased used vehicles, which also added to the agency’s workload.
But her excuses did little to placate some of the committee members.
“I really don’t know what to say. You don’t get it,” Assemblyman Harold Wirths (R-Sussex) told Fulton. “The buck stops at the top, and I just don’t think you’re capable of fixing the problems.”
“You have to solve their problems. You’re not sympathetic. I feel you’re the problem,” Wirths added.
Fulton, 63, is a retired U.S. Army captain and was nominated by President Biden in April 2021 to serve as Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Her nomination is still pending in the U.S. Senate.