Gov.-elect Phil Murphy says he understands why lawmakers are sounding cautious about both raising income taxes on millionaires and legalizing marijuana but remains committed to enacting those campaign promises.

Murphy spoke with reporters at the Trenton War Memorial after addressing the kickoff meeting for one of his transition committees. He said he’s confident New Jersey will raise taxes income over $1 million next year, regardless of whether Congress enacts the current tax proposal.

“I think millionaires are going to do just fine, unfortunately, in this bill in Washington. So it doesn’t impact my view of what we should do in New Jersey,” Murphy said.

The tax plan would allow homeowners to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes when calculating their federal tax bill, but it would end the deduction for state income taxes. That prompted Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, to suggest the millionaires’ tax might be reconsidered.

Murphy said the tax plan would be awful for New Jersey, saying the middle class tax cuts would disappear over 10 years. So he understands why lawmakers worry about the impact.

“I think people are scared as heck when they look at this bill in Washington. They are literally scared as heck, and we all ought to be,” Murphy said.

But Murphy doesn’t accept the rationale that millionaires would flee the state if taxes are hiked on income over $1 million and their federal deduction for state income taxes is ended.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t change my calculus for what we should do in New Jersey, and I’m highly confident that’s where we’re going to end up,” he said. “But people have every right to look at this and say, ‘Man, this is not America.’”

Concerns have also been raised from lawmakers of both parties about legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana. The incoming Assembly speaker, Craig Coughlin, remains noncommittal.

Murphy said he had the same initial reluctance but that it’s a better option than decriminalizing it.

“There are concerns that people have which I accept and understand. But it’s clear as a bell to me what the right way is going forward, given the alternative,” he said.

Murphy has appointed nearly 600 people to 14 transition committees, which will each produce reports identifying challenges facing the state. He spoke to the ‘government technology and innovation’ group as it held the first of those meetings Tuesday.

“There’s a lot to do in a short amount of time, and I promise you this is not for show,” Murphy said. “We’re looking for the answers that will allow us to govern in action as we have spoken in our words.”

Murphy said the technology and innovation group has “a particular deep spot in his heart” because of the opportunities in that area – to provide more efficient, cutting-edge government services to residents, to attract more of what he calls the innovation economy and to close the digital divide, by race, gender and class.

Members of the transition, including the volunteers, are being required to sign nondisclosure agreements and an ethics code of conduct.

Murphy's remarks on marijuana legalization:

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Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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