U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, weighed in on New Jersey’s budget battles by showing support for allies of Gov. Phil Murphy, who is locked in a heated political battle with fellow Democratic lawmakers over the spending plan.
Sanders, a Vermont independent and progressive candidate, retweeted a post by the Communications Workers of America – New Jersey’s largest union – as the organization prepares for a rally at the statehouse Thursday to promote several of its priorities for the 2020 budget.
Politicians must make it clear which side they are on: are they with workers or wealthy CEOs? I call on New Jersey legislators to side with workers and reject pension and health care cuts. I stand with @NJEA and @CWA_NJ. https://t.co/xijyeRQ7DR
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 11, 2019
The CWA, as well as the New Jersey Education Association, which was also tagged in Sanders’ tweet, are key Murphy allies whose members could be affected the most by a series of pension and health care cuts pushed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District.
Sweeney and the NJEA are often-times two of the most bitter rivals in Trenton.
“Politicians must make it clear which side they are on: are they with workers or wealthy CEOs?” Sanders tweeted. “I call on New Jersey legislators to side with workers and reject pension and health care cuts. I stand with [NJEA] and [CWA NJ].”
Both unions have been largely in support of Murphy’s millionaire’s tax, a proposal which originated from Sanders’ prior presidential campaign in 2015 and 2016. Other progressive proposals on which Murphy has campaigned, such as a $15 minimum wage, also gained popularity under the Sanders campaign.
Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, have said that the tax proposal is a non-starter.
Lawmakers and Murphy have until July 1 to approve a spending plan for the 2020 fiscal year. Legislative leaders plan to introduce their own version of the state budget on June 17 to pass in both the Assembly and Senate and then send to the governor’s desk on June 20.
But Murphy has the authority to veto the budget in whole, or line-item veto portions of the budget lawmakers send him as he sees fit. Sweeney has repeatedly dangled the prospect of a veto override if the governor takes that route.