Labor backs Murphy, who blasts ‘voodoo math’ of lawmakers’ budget
Flanked by a phalanx of labor leaders on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy clung to his push to raise taxes on income exceeding $1 million despite opposition from Democratic legislative leaders who are poised to send him a budget without it on Thursday.
His remarks indicated that his push over a millionaires’ tax will linger beyond this month’s constitutional deadline for adopting a budget, if necessary.
“The work on the budget doesn’t end on June 30. And let me be clear that we are not going away on June 30. Tax fairness is not simply a budget issue. It is an issue of equality,” Murphy said.
“So to every legislator willing to kick the can down the road instead of picking it up and doing what’s needed right now, I want to be perfectly clear. The pressure to pass a millionaires’ tax will intensify and not lessen if it not included in this budget,” he said.
Murphy didn’t specify what action he would take if the Legislature passes the budget in the way it was advanced by the budget committees Monday, without any of the tax and fee hikes he proposed. His remarks suggested the resolution could wait until nearly the midnight June 30 deadline.
“You should expect us to have all options on the table and every part of the clock on the table,” he said.
Nine union leaders and activists spoke at a news conference in Murphy’s office, leveling pointed criticism at Democratic legislative leaders, though not by name, and calling for a higher millionaires’ tax.
“To say we are disappointed is an understatement. We are outraged. They are out of touch,” said Chris Shelton, the national president for the Communications Workers of America.
“Legislature, look at me. Look at my brothers and sisters up here today. We won’t be fooled again. We will be at your office tomorrow. We will be on the phones each and every day, urging you to do the right thing,” said Ray Greaves, chairman of the New Jersey State Council of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
“I’m hopeful that over the next 10 days, they’ll come to their senses. They’ll break out of the Trenton bubble. And they’ll stand with the governor, just like we are right here, and fight for the working people and the middle class in New Jersey,” said Barry Kushnir of IFTPE Local 194, which represents New Jersey Turnpike workers.
“We know that we can fix this unfairness. That’s why we elected Gov. Phil Murphy as our governor,” said Marie Blistan, the New Jersey Education Association president.
Murphy said he wants the hike in the millionaires’ tax, which is projected to generate $536 million in fiscal 2020, to better stabilize the state government’s long-term finances.
“I didn’t get elected to come here to rush, rush, rush to June 30th and then wake up on July 1st and start the whole cycle again, this ridiculousness of living from one day or one year to the next, of wash, rinse, dry, repeat. Enough,” Murphy said.
Murphy said his staff is still reviewing the Legislature’s budget bill but criticized some of its contents. Among the revenue being counted on is $175 million less use of tax credits by corporations than the governor’s budget projects and $100 million more in taxes on repatriated corporate income.
“I’ll harken back to George H.W. Bush, there’s a lot of voodoo math. There’s a lot of, ‘Come on.’ And that’s classic kick the can down the road, fine, just pull a number out of the air,” Murphy said. “We’re not going to sign on to that.”