NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Vetoes Homeless Aid Legislation

Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Thursday Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed legislation to provide additional funding for emergency assistance for the homeless, according to NJ.com.

Murphy said he worried about the cost of the program, a sentiment that would normally find support among residents, who already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation. But the timing of the veto allowed bill supporters to label Murphy heartless.

“This is a cold act on the coldest day of the year,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, who sponsored the measure, according to The Record. While Sweeney and Murphy are both Democrats and support a host of progressive causes, the two men’s animosity is well known. Sweeney said the number of people who would have been aided by the bill is not large, though the office of Legislative Services couldn’t determine how much it would add to state spending, according to a report by The Record.

The bill would have lifted a lifetime cap on assistance for the homeless. When rejecting the bill, Murphy targeted the measure’s authors, saying in his budget message the bill as written “serves as a poor substitute for more stable and reliable housing support,” according to NJ.com. Murphy said that while he supports the measure, the financial impact on the state must be “carefully considered.”

Murphy, whose first budget raised taxes by $1.4 billion and who also approved a hike in the state gas tax, has indicated he can’t guarantee he won’t seek additional tax increases in this year’s budget. Sweeney and state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have said they will not support any new taxes.

Quote of the Day: “I’ve talked to Booker and I’ve talked to Kamala,” — House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, on the competition between Democratic senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, to line up support amid caucus members for their 2020 presidential runs.

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NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Vetoes Homeless Aid Legislation