Friday, 22 June 2018 02:20

As Shutdown Looms, New Jersey Legislature Blasts Governor's "My Way Or The High Way" Budget

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In what's beginning to sound like a repeat of last year's statewide budget battles that pitted Democratic legislatures against Republican governors in states like Maine, New Jersey and Illinois, the Democrat-controlled New Jersey legislature is trying to jam a plan that would raise taxes on corporations down the throat of the state's fledgling governor, Goldman Sachs alum Phil Murphy. 

However, there's one key incongruity here that might raise eyebrows among voters who don't live in the Garden State: Murphy is also a Democrat - yet his tax plan, which would rely on long-term increases in sales taxes as well as a hike on income taxes for the wealthiest individuals, has been resoundingly rejected by lawmakers - including State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who lost out to Murphy in the gubernatorial primary to replace outgoing governor Chris Christie, according to


The Senate Budget Committee passed the budget bill 8-3 (including two abstentions), and the Assembly Budget Committee passed their bill 9-4. By ignoring the governor's plan and instead moving ahead with its own, the legislature is hoping to send a resounding message to Murphy: "We don't answer to you."

New Jersey lawmakers on Tuesday flexed their muscles in advancing a state spending blueprint that eschews Gov. Phil Murphy's call for income and sales tax increases in favor of higher taxes on the state's largest corporations.

"The bill is hot off the press," state Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, announced before that committee voted along party lines on the $36.5 billion state budget that Murphy has already vowed to veto.

Legislative leaders have said they intend to put the budget before the two houses on Thursday, sending the bill to the governor, and with it, a message that the state Legislature doesn't answer to him.

"The Legislature is an independent body. We're equal partners and we're expressing that right now," state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, told reporters at the Statehouse Tuesday. "The Legislature is not going to accept 'my way or the highway' talking. We're not subservient."

Sweeney and Murphy have exchanged criticisms of their respective plans. Lawmakers criticized Murphy's plan for failing to take advantage of corporations' savings on their federal tax bill as Murphy blasted lawmakers' budget plan as "irresponsible and temporary"  - a reference to the fact that lawmaker's tax plan would only last for two years.

But perhaps the most trenchant criticism of the legislature's plan came from Republicans and Democrats who correctly pointed out that the tax hikes on corporations (some of which would be used to help fill the massive funding gap in New Jersey's public-employee pensions) would cement New Jersey's status as the "least friendly state in the US for corporations."

The legislative budget retools the corporation business tax hike Sweeney proposed earlier this year, adding two new temporary tiers that would...

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