When Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald stepped in front of reporters late on June 14th, announcing Democrats would pass a millionaire’s tax and use the proceeds for tax relief, reactions among Senate Democrats were decidedly mixed.
Some Senators immediately supported the idea, praising Democrats for pushing the issue that is close to the hearts of their constituents.
But in the staff offices, reaction wasn’t so supportive.
“Lou jumped the gun,” one Democrat connected to the Senate said minutes after Greenwald made the announcement.
The fear emanating from the staff offices was that Gov. Chris Christie, a master tactician, would take the tax hike and use his considerable power of conditional veto and rewrite the measure to reflect his own plan for a tax cut.
“He’s going to take that and ram it down our throats,” one staffer said that night.
Now, as first reported by PolitickerNJ on Friday, Christie plans to do just that.
The governor plans to make a deal with the Legislature for passage of another measure dear to their caucus, restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Last week, Christie vetoed a bill that would have restored the EITC to 25 percent of the federal credit, up from 20 percent. The governor had announced in February that he planned to restore the tax, but according to a source that was tied to a tax cut. When the Democrats failed to implement his tax cut, the governor felt no obligation to restore the EITC.
Today, Democrats are reportedly none too happy that they were right three weeks ago as they have been called to a special session to be addressed by Christie himself.
For their part, Assembly Democrats say they considered the potential for the CV when they passed the tax, but made the strategic decision to move forward. Christie’s action today has no bearing on the long-term strategy, one Assembly Democrat said, because it won’t change the strategy over the long haul.