NJ Politics Digest: Don’t Hold Your Breath for the Senate to Act on Millionaires’ Tax

Gov. Phil Murphy threw a Hail Mary pass this week in his efforts to win approval for an increase in the tax on the state's highest wage earners, but it was immediately swatted down by Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Steve Sweeney.
Senate President Steve Sweeney. Kevin B. Sanders for Observer

Gov. Phil Murphy threw a Hail Mary pass this week in his efforts to win approval for an increase in the tax on the state’s highest wage earners, but it was immediately swatted down by Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The senate president said he wouldn’t be posting any bill to raise the tax—not until Murphy acts on Sweeney’s Path to Progress blueprint for reforms to fix the state’s ongoing fiscal problems, according to a report by NJ.com.

“Until you fix those problems, I’m not raising taxes, period,” Sweeney said, according to the report.

While he can’t get support for the tax hike from Sweeney or Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Murphy had called on legislative leaders to post the plan for a vote in the Democratic-controlled legislature. The legislature in the past has supported such a hike, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Chris Christie. Murphy appears to be betting that a vote would gain support from legislators unwilling to go on record opposed to hiking the tax on millionaires.

Sweeney’s plan calls for a variety of steps to cut state and municipal spending, including reforming benefits awarded to public worker unions—which are close political allies of Murphy’s. The governor has refused to endorse such a plan.

Murphy has indicated he might not sign a state budget without the millionaires’ tax—though no one in the legislature has yet stepped forward to sponsor his plan. Sweeney, meanwhile, keeps giving indications that he’d be willing to bargain to achieve a plan that ties raising taxes to reforming spending.

State lawmakers must agree to a budget by July 1 to avoid a government shutdown.

Quote of the Day: “There is no doubt in my mind that, under the current administration, the EPA is retreating from its historic mission to protect our environment and the health of the public from environmental hazards,’’ — Former EPA Administrator and New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman Whitman.

Plastic Pollution: Will New Jersey Towns Ban All Plastic Bags or Only Thin Ones?
When Hoboken’s plastic bag ban went into effect in January, customers were still able to carry their groceries home in—yes—plastic bags.
The Record Read more

Sweeney Won’t Hold a Vote on a Millionaires’ Tax
No. That was the terse response from New Jersey’s most powerful state lawmaker Wednesday after Gov. Phil Murphy challenged him to let legislators vote on the governor’s plan to raise income taxes on the state’s millionaires.
NJ.com Read more

Riders and Officials Turn Up the Heat on NJ Transit to Restore Their Direct NYC Trains
Riders of NJ Transit’s other line that lost service last September are pressuring the agency to give them their trains back.
NJ.com Read more

Progressives Shake Things Up Inside George Norcross-Led Democratic Party in South Jersey
It was a small shake-up, to be sure, but a roll call vote to select the chair of the Camden County Democratic party Tuesday night was not business as usual.
Inquirer Read more

A Call to End the ‘Torture’ of Solitary Confinement in NJ Prisons
New Jersey lawmakers could soon pass the Isolated Confinement Restriction Act, which would limit how the Department of Corrections holds prisoners in solitary situations. The DOC insists solitary confinement is no longer used, but they say they do segregate some inmates if they pose a danger to others.
NJ101.5 Read more

Census 2020: Innovation Could Boost Participation, But It Won’t Come Cheap
A census-themed children’s book in 20 languages; tablets and laptops on which individuals can fill out the 2020 survey; and informative websites and social media campaigns are some of the methods organizations are planning to use to try to maximize New Jersey’s population count next year.
NJSpotlight Read more

Cooper Health Official Says the Company’s Tax Incentive Award Is Appropriate, Justified and Legitimate
Unlike Gov. Phil Murphy’s task force on EDA’s tax incentives, Cooper University Health Care was hopeful that Tom Moran would give a fair account of Cooper’s award of tax incentives in his editorial published on May 19, 2019. Instead, Mr. Moran totally ignored and failed to quote one word of the detailed information that was submitted to him.
NJ.com Read more

In a Quick Trip to Iowa, Murphy Makes the Case for Cory Booker 2020
In a speech, interviews, podcasts, meetings with officials and over beers with locals, Gov. Phil Murphy made his case for a President Cory Booker in an event-filled jaunt to Iowa this week.
The Record Read more

Beware of These NJ Laws Before Drinking, Smoking at Jersey Shore
Beach season is finally here—when we can pack up the car and head to the Jersey Shore to relax. However, as New Jerseyans are well aware, the Garden State constantly has new rules and regulations, and that also applies to our award-winning beaches.
Daily Record Read more

NJ Considers Giving In-State Tuition Rates to Veterans
In an effort to reduce higher education expenses for veterans, three Assembly members have introduced a bill to provide these servicemen and women with in-state tuition rates.
NJ101.5 Read more

Whitman, Other Former EPA Heads Tell Congress Agency Failing Its Core Mission
Four former Environmental Protection Agency administrators told Congress yesterday the agency’s core mission to protect public health and the environment is being undermined by the people who are running it.
NJSpotlight Read more

Van Drew to Announce Bipartisan Act for Land and Water Conservation Funding
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, along with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, is set to announce the introduction of bill that would dedicate funding to protect conservation land Wednesday morning.
Press of Atlantic City Read more

NJ Supreme Court: Meadowlands Landfill to Stay Temporarily Closed Amid Complaints of Fumes
The Keegan Landfill will once again close. The state Supreme Court on Wednesday reaffirmed a lower court’s decision to temporarily shut down the last landfill in the Meadowlands amid a wave of complaints from nearby residents that noxious fumes were making them ill.
The Record Read more

Facebook Troll Tried to Take Down NJ Town’s Rainbow Crosswalks. It Didn’t Work.
June is LGBTQ pride month, and for one New Jersey community, it comes with a dose of controversy.
NJ.com Read more

Mahwah Planners Approve Settlement Plan for Affordable Housing Sites
The Planning Board approved a master plan amendment with a new housing element and fair share plan that calls for 911 new residences on five properties.
The Record Read more

Police Union Criticizes Dover Officials’ Response to Allegations of Cops’ Excessive Force
In a scathing letter to Dover town officials, the local police union alleges that Mayor James Dodd was “unjustly scapegoating police officers” in comments he made about a video showing a Dover police sergeant repeatedly punching a suspect last month.
The Record Read more

Toms River Council Demands Councilman Daniel Rodrick Resign After ‘Bigoted Conduct’
Councilman Daniel T. Rodrick’s “bigoted conduct” during the recent Republican mayoral campaign that shows his “unfitness for elected office,” according to the other six members of the Township Council, who voted to censure Rodrick and demand his resignation Tuesday night.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Holmdel Township Administrator Remains Suspended Amid New Allegations of Wrongdoing
Township Administrator Donna Vieiro, who has been on paid leave for more than a month following allegations of nepotism, will remain suspended amid a batch of new charges being investigated, ranging from excessive days of missed work to improperly issued township checks.
Asbury Park Press Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Don’t Hold Your Breath for the Senate to Act on Millionaires’ Tax