Could Democrats’ millionaire tax debate shut down NJ government?
WOOD-RIDGE — In his budget address on Tuesday, Gov. Murphy insisted New Jersey needs to raise taxes on millionaires, which would generate an estimated $447 million in order to pay for programs and services and avoid other possible tax increases.
After Murphy finished his speech, state Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Glouceser, announced that he remains opposed to the proposed millionaire’s tax hike, which is not surprising because for months he’s been touring the state to talk about not supporting any additional tax increases in New Jersey until meaningful, structural state spending changes are achieved.
A fight over proposed tax increases last year almost led to a state government shutdown, and already there are concerns being raised that the same scenario could play out this year, with a not-so-happy ending this time around.
During an appearance at an NJ Transit facility in Wood-Ridge on Wednesday, Murphy reiterated his belief that raising the tax on individuals making more than $1 million a year is absolutely necessary, but he tried to play down the idea of closing the government at the end of June if a compromise deal can’t be reached.
At the same time, however, he did not rule out shuttering state government.
“I would say to folks there’s no appetite on anyone’s part to shut the state of New Jersey down," he said. "We’ve seen what it did at the federal government level, which was ridiculous.”
While Murphy did not make any proposes about avoiding a shutdown at the end of June, he did express confidence about working with legislative leaders to reach a budget agreement before push comes to shove.
“I’ve signed 207 bills, so for all the noise that gets talked about the reality is we’ve found a lot of common ground," he said about his relationship with Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex.
State Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, who accompanied the governor during his visit to Wood-Ridge, stressed the budget negotiation process is beginning “at a very good starting point, a really great starting point.”
Still to be determined: Where it leads three and ½ months from now.