Gov. Phil Murphy continues to call for a tax increase for millionaires in his proposed  budget, but Democratic legislative leaders have repeatedly stated their opposition to it.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney has pointed to recent studies showing New Jersey’s highest in the nation tax rates have been a significant factor contributing to the state’s outmigration woes, a pattern that included more than 5,000 millionaires leaving the Garden State last year alone.

And there are concerns that raising taxes on those making $1 million or more a year will cause even more top wage earners to pack up and relocate.

In response to Democratic opposition to a new millionaires tax, several citizen advocate groups and an organization called the Patriotic Millionaires got together Wednesday afternoon, urging them to change their minds and support the tax hike.

During a small rally on the steps of the War Memorial across from the Statehouse, Morris Pearl, chairman of the board of Patriotic Millionaires, said a millionaire’s tax increase is needed to fund things that make the Garden State great, “from public schools to transportation, to compensation for state workers.”

He said Jersey is facing many challenges “but we have a solution: tax the rich, those who benefitted the most from the systems and infrastructures that were paid for by the sacrifices of those who came before us.”

He said the richest of the rich just received “a massive tax cut” so they can afford to pay more without affecting their lifestyles in any significant way.

“The wealthy in this state have benefitted more than any other group from our growing economy and from the changes in the federal tax laws, and it’s far past time for them to pay our fair share," he said.

He said people live in New Jersey because of its taxes, not in spite of them. Pearl, however, lives in New York City.

“This state is one of the greatest places in the entire world to build a business. This is where entrepreneurs can find people who can change the world," he said.

Pearl rejected the idea that raising taxes on the wealthy will drive them out of New Jersey.

“Higher taxes are not a burden, they’re an investment, an investment we want to make to make the state better and more prosperous for everyone, ourselves included.”

Pearl added the message being delivered to lawmakers is simple.

“Tax us and lets build a stronger and more prosperous New Jersey together.”

Brandon McKoy, the president of progressive New Jersey Policy Perspective, said New Jersey has had 11 credit downgrades during the past decade “and the millionaires tax is a great way to benefit our credit rating.”

He said the state should be doing everything possible “to improve our credit rating, not just stop the bleeding, improve it. And the millionaires tax is one of the most basic things you can do to get on that road.”

Other groups attending the rally included New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Jersey working Families, New Jersey Citizen Action and Make the Road New Jersey.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com