Murphy says if he doesn’t get a N.J. millionaires tax, he may not sign state budget

Updated May 23, 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy all but said Thursday he won’t sign another state budget unless it includes a tax hike on those who earn more than $1 million a year in New Jersey.

Murphy declared he’s done “stumbling” from one budget agreement to another each year as he put his foot down for a tax increase on the state’s top earners to help pump more money into education, transportation public-worker pensions and property taxes.

If he sticks to his position, the Democratic governor sets the stage for a state government shutdown if the top leaders of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature continue to oppose the millionaires tax by the July 1 budget deadline.

“The bigger point is that I’m not managing the state from May to June or the typical, you know, stumbling to June 30 to barely get over the goal line just so the we can do it again next year,” Murphy said at an event in Burlington County about free community college tuition for poorer New Jerseyans.

"We’ve got to get to a higher and better place in this state and manage ourselves with a fiscal discipline and responsibility that we have not done in the past couple of decades," Murphy said.

Asked if that meant a millionaires tax is “a line in the sand” and that he’d refused to sign a budget by the end of next month without one, Murphy responded: "The line in the sand is without question: Enough of the old stumbling ways of putting Band-Aids on our fiscal house, so there is a line in the sand for that.”

Murphy then pointed out how Democrats sent former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, a millionaires tax five times in the eight years he served as governor prior to his tenure. Christie vetoed them each time.

“The only thing that has changed is the governor,” Murphy said. “If it was a good idea then it’s hard for me to see why it’s not a good idea now.”

His comments come after both state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, condemned a new marketing push by a pro-Murphy group meant to rally support for the governor’s insistence the next budget include a millionaires tax.

Both men still oppose Murphy’s push for the hike.

The state narrowly avoided a shutdown over the issue last year after the leaders struck a deal to increase taxes on people who earn more than $5 million a year, as well as on corporations.

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