Murphy Says He'll Veto N.J. Budget If It Omits Tax Increases

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he’ll veto the state budget if it’s sent to him with the changes proposed last week by Democrats who control the legislature.

With 12 days until the budget deadline, the governor on Monday again called for raising more than $1.5 billion in revenue through a higher sales tax and new levies on millionaires and users of Uber Technologies Inc., Airbnb Inc. and electronic cigarettes. He’s also counting on legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana to balance his proposed $37.4 billion spending plan.

Four hours after Murphy’s Monday press conference, legislative leaders said they would introduce their own budget, for the same amount, though with some different priorities. It will have “fair funding for New Jersey’s underfunded school districts,” according to a chart they presented, though that amount wasn’t specified. Other expenditures include $8 million for prisoner re-entry, $4 million to combat cancer and tens of millions of dollars more for nursing home residents, those with developmental disabilities and child-abuse victims. They expected to have their budget on the governor’s desk by week’s end.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat from West Deptford, said he remained opposed to Murphy’s proposed millionaire’s tax and again called for a two-year corporate-tax rate increase.

“When a person with great wealth moves, they move their business with them,” Sweeney said. “I don’t have a problem at all taxing Goldman Sachs.”

Murphy, a Democrat who took office in January, at his own press conference stood between two charts detailing lawmakers’ proposals, including $672 million in corporate-tax surcharges.

“Should the legislature send me a budget proposal that looks anything like these charts, I will veto it,” he told reporters at a press conference. “I’m not going to certify a budget based on gimmicks.”

Democratic legislative leaders have said New Jerseyans, who are among the most-taxed in the nation, can’t afford to give more to government. Their proposed budget includes nearly $1 billion in “unsustainable, temporary revenues,” Murphy said, including a one-year tax-amnesty program and a corporate-tax increase that would expire after fiscal 2020.

The legislature also is “pushing for $450 million in new spending, while also banking on unverifiable savings and efficiencies,” said Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. senior partner and U.S. ambassador to Germany. The proposal would leave the state with a $164 million deficit, according to the governor.

If New Jersey lacks a spending plan on July 1, the start of the fiscal year, government will shut down. Murphy, 60, this month told state departments to prepare to discontinue all but essential services.

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