NJ budget deadline looms: GOP won’t hurry to raise taxes
Update: Legislative leaders and Gov. Phil Murphy have agreed on a budget, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown.
TRENTON — New Jersey looks certain to open its new fiscal year Sunday without a budget in place. Whether that means a partial government shutdown that closes state-run parks and beaches remains to be seen.
Gov. Phil Murphy and Democratic legislative leaders met for around two hours this morning, broke for a while, then got back together in the early afternoon. Those talks broke down by late afternoon without an agreement and with tempers rising.
Regardless of whether a deal is struck Saturday, it appears that the new fiscal year will begin at 12:01 Sunday without a spending plan in place.
The rules of the Legislature require waiting periods in the process for a bill to become a law. Those rules can be waived if three-fourths of lawmakers – 30 in the Senate and 60 in the Assembly – agree, but Assembly Republicans say they won’t agree to an emergency vote.
“We are not going to support new taxes or a new budget unless it has substantial cuts. And my guess is, there’s not going to be substantial cuts,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union.
“I’m happy to be an obstructionist if it has to do with new taxes in the state of New Jersey,” Bramnick said. “Not only that, there’s no reason to wait until the eve of July 4, when everyone is gone, when you raise new taxes.”
“I’m not going to bail them out of a new tax plan. That’s out,” he said.
State government services don’t have to close Sunday, even if there isn’t an approved budget. That would be up to Murphy, who has said he has reviewed contingency plans but hasn’t yet decided on a course of action if there isn’t a budget agreement.
It’s likely that if a deal is reached, but not yet ratified by lawmakers, Murphy wouldn’t shutter state services. It’s not yet clear what will happen if there isn’t a deal.