Gov. Phil Murphy used his appearance at a town hall in Union to once again sell his millionaire’s tax proposal, as well as fees on gun licenses and certain businesses with employees on Medicaid – all initiatives he failed to get past lawmakers earlier this year.
“All I’m asking is that we get a little bit of fairness to help us level the playing field out,” Murphy told the crowd. “I can’t justify making all the investments in the middle class… and then make the same people pay for it.”
Murphy tried during 2019 and 2020 budget talks to push through a millionaire’s tax, which would have increased the income tax rate from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent for every dollar earned above $1 million; he did score a victory in 2018 for a mega-millionaire’s tax for earners above $5 million.
The 2020 budget proposal would have affected 19,000 millionaires and earned the state between $450 million to $500 million, according to the Murphy administration.
Legislative leadership resisted both times.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District – the state Legislature’s top Democrat and a political foe of Murphy – has been one of the main blockers of the tax proposal, calling it “just a talking point” for the governor” and a budget “gimmick.”
Murphy on Monday also sold a fee on gun licenses and a so-called “corporate responsibility fee” on certain employers whose workers are enrolled in Medicaid.
“Big companies that don’t provide health care for their employees and therefore the employee has no place to go other than Medicaid, we’re going to ask you [to] pay for that and have a per head charge to help us defray the costs,” the governor said on Monday.
“The gun license fee in the state, you know when it was last raised? 1966, when I was nine,” he added.
Under the 2020 budget proposal, the state would have earned $30 million of revenues from the $125 fee on employers, and $1.4 million from the proposed firearm fees.
Lawmakers also nixed $3.2 million from the proposed ammunition fee and $21.5 million from fees on opioid manufacturers from the proposed 2020 budget, leading to the governor accusing leadership of siding with the “gun lobby,” “giant corporations” and opioid manufacturers.