TRENTON — Though the state Legislature approved a 2019 state budget Thursday, it did so without reaching an agreement with Gov. Phil Murphy, setting off another round of increasingly cutting remarks between the three Democrats atop New Jersey’s executive and legislative branches.

Murphy met twice Thursday with Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. Sweeney later told reporters “the reality is we didn’t make any progress” and that Murphy’s administration has been “completely dishonest with us.”

Murphy said he had offered “a general framework of where we could find some common ground” but received no offers from the Senate side Thursday. He said there had been “a rejection on their part of facts … and that is discouraging.”

“I will not put forward gimmicks and games that I know are ticking time bombs and call it a day,” said Murphy, who said maneuvers included in the Legislature’s budget, such as transferring $25 million from the New Jersey Turnpike to New Jersey Transit, “are why our finances are a national joke.”

Murphy said he objects to enacting a budget that counts on more than $1 billion in non-recurring revenues and that his staff will assess options for how and when to veto it.

“I was not sent here to keep doing business as usual. That’s not who I am, that’s not why I got elected,” Murphy said. “I got elected to come here and crack the back of this idiocy of kicking the can, phantom numbers, Band-Aids, toothpicks. Enough.”

Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said the Governor’s Office and Treasury Department are ignoring budget projections from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services in favor of its own smaller forecasts to justify sales and income tax increases.

“I have never seen an administration with a lack of focus and a lack of honesty the way they have handled this,” Sweeney said.

Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said people need to set aside egos and show a willingness to negotiate.

“I think the governor is, in fact, responsible in many ways for the breakdown,” Coughlin said. “He’s taken a very dogmatic approach to resolving this. He’s been disagreeable instead of disagreeing.”

The $36.5 billion budget passed the Senate with the minimum number of votes needed, 21-17. Four Democrats voted against it and two didn’t vote. It only was able to pass because two Republicans voted in favor: Christopher ‘Kip’ Bateman and Kristin Corrado.

It passed by a larger majority in the Assembly, 46-28.

A two-year surcharge on the business tax, on corporations with over $1 million in New Jersey-based profits passed with the minimum number of votes needed in the Senate and Assembly.

Murphy said he would veto the budget if it didn’t have sustainable revenues.

The deadline to enact a spending plan and avoid a government shutdown is June 30.


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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