Murphy honest about tax hikes, but you can’t trust Sweeney (Opinion)
Steve Sweeney: Getty Images
Gotta give it to the new governor. He campaigned and won on raising your taxes — getting several worked into the new budget. No, not just the taxes of the very wealthy, but also the average consumer using e-cigarettes, ride share services like Lyft and Uber, and renters and homeowners using Airbnb.
Businesses weren't left out of the money grab either. Question is, how can a state with an already abysmal climate for business expect economic prosperity while making it more expensive for companies to hire and compete here? It's counter-intuitive and it's simply bad policy.
The newfound revenue sources don't include a restoration of the sales tax cut from the Christie era, which would have hardly been noticed. Instead, the pols targeted specific businesses with regressive taxes that will surely go up as time goes on. And the worst part is the money isn't dedicated to anything specific and we are facing a fiscal crisis with a quarter of the budget headed toward funding public employee health and benefits. Not a word about real reform in this negotiation. It's entirely possible that the governor and the Senate president made up the crisis in order to put the focus on the shutdown and rule through fear instead of having to be held accountable for actual solutions.
But either way, raising taxes is exactly what Murphy got elected to do. He said it plainly in his campaign speeches and when he took office. Nothing sneaky here. No need for the back room; he did this in plain sight. So score one for the gov in the honesty column. We'll have to judge him based on the quality of life over the next year and the number of employers and wealthy taxpayers who leave.
That said, shame on Senate President Steve Sweeney. He stood up and got credit from hosts like me for pushing back on new taxes. He spoke out against the millionaires' tax essentially saying this was not the right time for tax hikes. Then he completely caved in a late night deal on Sunday. The governor got most of what he asked for in the new budget. Sweeney failed to represent the working and middle class who continue to struggle to afford the Garden State. Seems that Steve Sweeney wanted an awful lot of credit and to score political points against the Governor this past Winter when he opened up his phone lines to help people impacted by the severe winter. It was all political posturing. Maybe he thought he was getting traction against Murphy for a possible primary run, or even just to increase his hold on special interest money. Either way, he completely failed to inspire and speak for the real New Jerseyans who are not redoubling their Exit Plan efforts.
Shame on Sweeney for saying one thing and then doing another. Shame on Sweeney for using the brutal winter storms to score political points against the Governor. Clearly, he's a light-weight and Governor Murphy showed he can play the Trenton insider game as well as anyone. And he did it by being honest.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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