NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Stake Out Sides as Murphy’s 1st Budget Looms

Phil Murphy.

Phil Murphy. Alyana Alfaro for Observer

Gov. Phil Murphy is set to introduce his first budget today, and there are a lot of questions as to whether the governor will be able to pursue many of his ambitious progressive plans.

Murphy has stuck to his call for a millionaires tax and the legalization of recreational marijuana as ways to raise revenue for his plans, but both proposals have encountered resistance among Murphy’s Democratic allies, not to mention Republicans in the state legislature.

Sen. President Steve Sweeney has proposed a surcharge on New Jersey corporations earning in excess of $1 million as an alternative to the millionaires tax. But on Monday, Sweeney did throw his support behind Murphy’s plan to legalize pot, telling NJ.com that an alternative suggestion of decriminalizing marijuana possession was an unnecessary half measure. Sweeney’s opposition means the decriminalization plan is dead if he refuses to post it for a vote in the Senate. Supporters, however, are calling on Sweeney to at least put the measure before voters in a referendum, a move the Senate president is unlikely to embrace, according to the report.

Republicans on Monday made political hay of the impending budget, holding a preemptive press conference to warn that the spending plan will call for higher taxes, according to ROI-NJ.

Meanwhile, Murphy was laying his own groundwork, saying his plan would boost funding for NJ Transit and vowing that his plan would benefit the state’s middle-class residents.

Quote of the Day: “If they’re so assured this is a positive thing for the state of New Jersey, if they’re so assured that people want to do it, let’s put it on the ballot. Let’s see it,” — Sen. Robert Singer, challenging Democrats to put their plan to legalize marijuana to voters.

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NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Stake Out Sides as Murphy’s 1st Budget Looms