Gov. Phil Murphy took a harsher tone with legislative leadership on Wednesday, accusing them of being on the side of the “state’s 19,000 millionaires,” the “gun lobby,” “giant corporations who refuse to offer health care to their workers,” and opioid manufacturers for not approving his proposed fees on those groups in his state budget.
Murphy’s budget included roughly a half billion dollars from increasing the income tax from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent for every dollar earned above $1 million, but the budget that the Legislature sent him last week cut that amount out in full.
The budget also cut $21.5 million from opioid manufacturer fees, $30 million from a $125 “corporate responsibility fee” on certain employers whose workers enroll in Medicaid, $1.4 million from the proposed firearms fee and $3.2 million from the proposed ammunition fee.
“Whose side are you on?” Murphy asked at a budget press conference earlier Wednesday morning in Paterson – an increasingly used phrase by the governor as budget negotiations enter their final stage.
The office of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, declined to comment.
Sweeney, in a statement Wednesday afternoon responding to “Murphy’s tantrums,” said that the governor is “starting to resemble Donald Trump in bombast, inconsistency and unreliability.”
“The reality is, Phil Murphy has no real agenda, no realistic plans to fix what is wrong in New Jersey, and no idea how to address the property tax crisis, the state’s most demanding problem,” Sweeney continued. “And, when it comes to choosing sides, Gov. Murphy is more beholden to selfish, special-interests groups such as the leadership of the [New Jersey Education Association] and [Communications Workers of America] than to everyday working people.”
The governor has spent every day this past week at public press conferences in an effort to rally support behind his budget and economic proposals.
On Monday he was in Newark advocating for lawmakers to support his proposed replacements for the Grow New Jersey corporate tax breaks, which expire on July 1. On Tuesday, he was in Ewing pushing lawmakers to approve the opioid fees, which he said would help boost the state’s $100 million anti-opioid epidemic programs. Then today, he was in Paterson pushing lawmakers to approve his proposed $28 million expansion of the community college tuition-free program.
Murphy has no plans to hold meetings with legislative leadership – Sweeney and Coughlin – between now and the June 30 budget deadline, nor have either of them sought meetings.
“We’ve lots of meetings [sic], lots of back and forth, lots of laying out the rationale for a millionaire’s tax, or community college opportunity grants,” Murphy said Wednesday. “They have chosen to discharge their constitutional responsibility. I’m the governor. I have the budget. It’s now up to me to discharge my constitutional responsibility.”
At a June 21 press conference, the governor flexed his constitutional gubernatorial authority: the ability to line-item veto specific spending priorities in the $38.7 billion budget the Legislature sent him if lawmakers do not approve a millionaire’s tax.
Murphy suggested he would cut out “hundreds of millions of dollars in pork spending” from the budget that the state Legislature sent him.