NJ Politics Digest: Education Appointment Flap Another Example of Sweeney/Murphy Feud

Phil Murphy (left) and Steve Sweeney

Phil Murphy (left) and Steve Sweeney. Christian Hetrick for Observer

A new front has opened in the feud between Senate President Steve Sweeney and Gov. Phil Murphy, with Sweeney throwing a roadblock in front of the governor’s two top education appointments.

Sweeney told NJ.com on Wednesday he wasn’t satisfied with how Lamont Repollet, Murphy’s pick for state education commissioner and Zakiya Smith Ellis, the governor’s choice for higher education secretary, answered questions he had posed to them concerning school funding and college affordability.

Sweeney said Repollet understands the need to reform school funding, but appears in no hurry to correct problems.

Both Repollet and Ellis have been cleared by the state Senate Judiciary Committee and had been expected to be confirmed by the full Senate during a voting session today. But Sweeney never put them on the schedule, according NJ.com.

A Murphy spokesman blasted Sweeney for “unilaterally” holding up the nominations.

The clash is just the latest example of bad blood and conflicting priorities between the state’s two top Democrats.

The two don’t agree on how the state should approach school funding, and Sweeney has made it clear he doesn’t approve of Murphy’s plan to impose a new millionaires tax and other spending hikes.

Quote of the Day: “He’s well aware what’s wrong and the administration is slow walking us in a solution to funding and it’s not acceptable.” — Senate President Steve Sweeney, on Lamont Repollet, Gov. Phil Murphy’s nominee for state education commissioner.

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NJ Politics Digest: Education Appointment Flap Another Example of Sweeney/Murphy Feud