NJ Politics Digest: Where Does Murphy Actually Stand on Dark Money?

Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy.

Gov. Phil Murphy. ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

Gov. Phil Murphy says he wants to bring greater transparency to state government.

But the governor has conditionally vetoed a bill that would shed light on donors to “dark money” political organizations and, as The Record reports, keeps raising money for just such a group that is running ads in support of his plan to raise taxes in this year’s budget.

As The Record reports, the New Jersey Education Association, a powerful state teachers’ union, is the only group that is known to have contributed to the dark money group New Direction New Jersey, which refuses to say—and is legally not required to reveal—who its donors are. While Murphy refuses to directly say whether or not he has asked the union to support New Direction, the governor has said he is raising funds for the group and has “spoken to the NJEA constantly” in the last five years, “including around New Direction, but far more often on policy.” Murphy has appeared in ads paid for by New Direction each of the last two years as he’s fought to raise new taxes in the state.

Murphy is currently locked in a battle with legislative leaders of his own party. Senate President Steven Sweeney says the state is in a fiscal crisis and must cut spending and look to reform the benefits paid to public workers to bring the benefits more in line with those received by state residents in the private sector. But Murphy, who is closely aligned with public workers’ unions, opposes making cuts and wants to impose higher taxes on the state’s top earners to fund his progressive agenda. Sweeney contends such increases will only drive high-earning residents out of the state, a view echoed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has refused to impose a new “millionaires’ tax” in his own state.

Murphy and the Legislature must agree on a budget by July 1 or the state government will be shut down. Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have said they won’t support Murphy’s millionaires’ tax plan, and Murphy has indicated he is willing to shut down New Jersey’s government in order to win the tax increase.

Sweeney has introduced a package of bills aimed at reining in government spending, including steps to reform public health benefits and change pensions for new hires. The senate president has said he will put his plan—originally formulated by a blue-ribbon panel of economists and policy experts who studied the state’s financial condition—to voters in a referendum if Murphy will not approve it.

Quote of the Day:  “As a general matter, I was a aware of the NJEA support. I can’t recall when I became aware of it,” — Gov. Phil Murphy, on raising money from the powerful teachers’ union for the dark money group New Direction New Jersey, which supports Murphy’s call for a state millionaires’ tax.

Legislation Introduced to Protect the Affordable Care Act in New Jersey
Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Friday a package of bills designed to safeguard the principles of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in New Jersey, establish and fund a State-Based Exchange (SBE).
NJBiz Read more

Cory Booker Dazzles California Democrats With Call to End Gun Violence, Oust Trump
Cory Booker appeared to have a breakout moment in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, delivering a passionate and sizzling speech at the California Democratic Party Convention in San Francisco.
New Jersey Globe Read more

School Funding Formula Threatens Layoffs, Programming Cuts for Some Districts
School districts and education advocacy groups across New Jersey are calling on Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders to rethink adjustments to the state’s funding formula for public schools. Two hundred districts across the state say they’ll be forced into hefty layoffs this year if proposed state aid cuts go through.
WNYC News Read more

Paramus, the Retail Colossus of New Jersey, Looks to Ban Plastic Bags
You can shop till you drop, but you won’t be getting any plastic bags to tote your merchandise, if a proposal to ban plastic bags is approved by the borough.
The Record Read more

‘Facts Matter.’ Top Democrat Says Murphy Vetoes Too Much Legislation. Murphy Disagrees.
New Jersey’s top two elected state officials now have a new issue they’re arguing about: how many times Gov. Phil Murphy has vetoed legislation so far.
NJ.com Read more

Opioid Treatment System ‘Badly Broken,’ Survivors Tell Andy Kim
New Jersey and the nation as a whole have gone to extraordinary lengths to halt the opioid epidemic, yet it continues to claim more lives every day.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Battle Over New Jersey’s Tax Incentive Program Spreads to Congress
New Jersey Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross is trying to downplay his role in creating a controversial tax incentive program that is roiling state politics—a program that benefited a company and nonprofit run by and tied to his brother, South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross, and that generated business for a law firm run by his other brother, Philip.
Politico Read more

Rutgers Part-Time Faculty Approve New Contract With Raises Ranging From 12 Percent to 33 Percent
Despite vocal protest from some members, the Rutgers union that represents part-time or adjunct lecturers approved a new contract Friday that the union’s leaders described as “revolutionary.”
The Record Read more

George Gilmore, Ocean Ex-GOP Boss, Loses Acquittal Motion on Tax Charges, Will Appeal
A U.S. District Court judge has rejected former Ocean County GOP Chairman George R. Gilmore’s motion for acquittal on three federal tax charges.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Another Bus Lane Would Ease Traffic to NYC, but There’s a High-Tech Reason It May Not Happen
Some bus commuters, who sit in traffic whenever the Xclusive Bus Lane backs up to the Lincoln Tunnel, say it’s time to add a second bus lane to reduce delays and long travel times.
NJ.com Read more

GOP Voters Weigh Candidacy of Incumbent MAGA Republican in Primary
Will 8th District Republicans vote for an incumbent who has fully embraced President Donald Trump in the June 4 primary for a New Jersey Assembly seat, or will they back a ticket that has been endorsed by the local party?
NJSpotlight Read more

NJ Medicaid Decision Forcing Disabled Student to Drop Out of Georgetown
Through two years at Georgetown University, Anna Landre has posted a 3.9 grade point average, completed a prestigious internship and become a columnist for the student newspaper.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Soap Is the Next Weapon in the War Against Human Trafficking in NJ
The local volunteers who are fighting the war against human sex trafficking have chosen their next weapon—soap.
The Record Read more

Errors Found on Mail-In, Provisional Ballots in NJ City
If you mailed in your vote for a primary race in Salem, you may have to recast your vote—due to back-to-back errors on ballots sent out to voters.
NJ.com Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Where Does Murphy Actually Stand on Dark Money?