NJ Politics Digest: Sweeney, Murphy to Meet on Plan to Remake State’s Finances

Phil Murphy (left) and Steve Sweeney

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

Senate President Steve Sweeney is pushing a plan to radically reshape the state’s finances to head off what he says is an oncoming financial catastrophe.

Next week, he’ll try to sell the proposal to Gov. Phil Murphy.
Sweeney told the Star-Ledger editorial board on Tuesday that he and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin plan to meet with Murphy next week.

The plan formulated by a blue-ribbon panel convened by Sweeney calls for restructuring public worker pensions, cutting benefits, new tolls and merging school districts. The aim is to address the state’s looming pension crisis and to deal with structural instability in state funding.

New Jersey residents frequently complain about the state’s crushing tax burden, but Sweeney will likely have a tough time getting Murphy, who is closely aligned with the state’s powerful public workers unions, to back the plan.

Murphy’s first state budget raised spending by more than $2 billion and proposed a variety of new, expensive programs such as free community college for low-income residents and expanding pre-k services. The governor contends residents, who bear one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, won’t mind paying even more in taxes if they feel they are getting their money’s worth.

Quote of the Day: “I want to give him a chance to digest what we’ve presented, take a look at it and I’m going to have a very straightforward conversation with him.” — Senate President Steve Sweeney, on his upcoming meeting with Gov. Phil Murphy to discuss a plan to revamp the state’s finances.

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NJ Politics Digest: Sweeney, Murphy to Meet on Plan to Remake State’s Finances