NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Can’t Find Anyone to Put Forward His Millionaires’ Tax

Gov. Phil Murphy has said he won't sign a state budget that doesn't include a hike in the tax on the state's highest earners. The problem is that he can't find anyone in the state legislature to publicly help him advance the plan.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy delivering the 2019 New Jersey State of the State address in the Assembly Chambers at the New Jersey State House in Trenton.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy delivering the 2019 New Jersey State of the State address in the Assembly Chambers at the New Jersey State House in Trenton. Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Gov. Phil Murphy has said he won’t sign a state budget that doesn’t include a hike in the tax on the state’s highest earners. The problem is that he can’t find anyone in the state legislature to publicly help him advance the plan.

As NJSpotlight reports, no member of the state Assembly or Senate has come forward to sponsor a bill that would grant residents a one-time $125 property tax credit or boost the millionaires’ tax to fund the proposal.

And even if someone did step forward to champion the idea, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin don’t support hiking the tax. The two say the increase would drive high earners out of the state. They instead say the state must tackle fiscal reforms, including reducing public worker benefits, in order to get its financial house in order and grant residents relief from one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Murphy, who depends on political support from public workers and who appears in ads funded in part by the state’s powerful teachers union pushing for the tax increase, is unwilling to endorse such changes.

Murphy and the legislature must have a state budget in place by July 1 or face the shutdown of state government. The inability to find a sponsor for his top legislative priority is another embarrassment for the freshman governor, and another example of the difficulty he is having striking deals with his fellow Democrats to advance his progressive agenda. Earlier this week, Murphy avoided being the first governor in more than two decades to suffer a veto override after agreeing to sign essentially the same bill that he had previously vetoed forcing so-called “dark money” political groups to disclose their donors.

While Murphy hasn’t had any luck finding help among members of the assembly or senate, as NJSpotlight reports, public workers’ unions have launched their own concerted effort to win legislative support for the millionaires’ tax.

Quote of the Day: “This is the ultimate politically motivated giveaway to red states. It doesn’t even pass the laugh test and will face tough legal scrutiny,” — U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, on the IRS ruling thwarting New York and New Jersey’s to circumvent the federal cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes.

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NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Can’t Find Anyone to Put Forward His Millionaires’ Tax