N.J. Lawmakers Pushing Own Budget Plan Amid Murphy Impasse

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey legislative leaders, at odds with Governor Phil Murphy over his call for at least $1.5 billion in new taxes, plan to brief lawmakers on their own budget proposal next Monday and could vote as soon as June 21.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a West Deptford Democrat, said the total size of lawmakers’ proposal hasn’t been set and is roughly in line with Murphy’s $37.4 billion plan. Sweeney’s plan would restore about $77 million of program cuts made by Murphy, the lawmaker said Friday during a press conference with other Democrats and advocacy groups.

“Our main focus is working to find consensus with the governor, but we’re going to move a budget," Sweeney told reporters.

Murphy, who took office in January, is at loggerheads with fellow Democrats who control the legislature over his plan to raise taxes on millionaires, retail sales, online-room booking, ride-sharing, marijuana, e-cigarettes and Internet transactions. Those increases would help fund a record budget that would boost spending on schools, pensions and mass transit.

Democratic leaders have balked at the extent of the tax increases. They and Murphy must pass a balanced budget by the July 1 start of the fiscal 2019 year or shut state government.

“No one wants a shutdown,” Sweeney said.

As Sweeney and others spoke at the press conference, Murphy, a former senior manager at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., responded on Twitter, saying that his proposal would keep income taxes steady for middle-class families while “asking those at the top to pay their fare share.”

“Undoing the costly gimmicks of the past and resetting the sales tax at 7 percent is the right thing to do to make the investments we need in @NJTRANSIT, property tax relief, and our public schools,” Murphy posted.

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