Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his budget plan for fiscal 2021 with a speech to the Legislature Tuesday afternoon, and he’s expected to propose tax increases to help pay for record payments into the pension fund, school aid and other priorities.

Murphy has made clear in recent weeks that he’ll again propose some of the tax and fee increases the Legislature declined to endorse in past years, affecting opioid manufacturers, companies whose workers rely on Medicaid for health coverage and – most prominently – millionaires.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, said Murphy is controlled by radical progressives in the Democratic Party — so he expects to see their more than $3 billion in suggested tax hikes embraced in Tuesday’s budget plan.

“I don’t think this governor has ever tried to be moderate. I think what this governor has done, he’s been an extremist when it comes to tax-and-spend policies,” Bramnick said.

Murphy is likely to again call for a millionaire’s tax – though not starting at $250,000, as those groups want. He also hasn’t proposed other changes they seek, such as reinstating the estate tax.

Bramnick said he can’t figure out the Democrats’ long-term goals, other than to drive residents out of New Jersey, particularly those who are wealthy.

“What hope does the average taxpayer have in this state that things are going to change?” Bramnick said. “What message comes out of this Statehouse from anybody on the Democratic side or this governor that there’s hope? That you don’t have to leave?”

Dena Mottola Jaborska, associate director of New Jersey Citizen Action, one of the groups in the coalition advocating for an array of tax increases, said it’s Bramnick who’s being extreme.

“He’s taking a position that tax cuts for wealthy people and corporations matters more than tax fairness and equity for working people and middle-income people,” Jaborska said.

She rejects the idea that the tax hikes would chase away the rich, saying the idea has been disproved.

“If anything it’s working families that are struggling to afford New Jersey and that need the help that they’re going to get if a millionaires tax is passed,” Jaborska said.

Income taxes were raised under Murphy for income over $5 million. He has sought to raise them on income over $1 million.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, has blocked consideration of a millionaires tax at that level – but is now saying he’d go along with it, but only if Murphy added another $1 billion in revenue to the pension fund. That tax hike is projected to raise nearly $500 million.

Bramnick said he’s confused by Sweeney’s new position and called it “a serious mistake.”

“I can’t imagine what’s changed. But he was a firewall between the taxpayer and this governor,” Bramnick said. “And I hope that he continues to be a strong advocate of the taxpayer and not a strong advocate of this governor.”

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Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, responding also to Sweeney’s call to re-impose a 1% surcharge on corporate profits over $1 million to help fund NJ Transit, said in a statement that he remains “cautious of increasing any broad-based taxes on an already overburdened state."


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.