TRENTON — Large companies whose workers get health coverage through Medicaid rather than through their employer would have to start paying the state an annual "corporate responsibility fee" under Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget proposal.

The Murphy administration wouldn’t identify the corporations that would be affected, although big employers such as Walmart and Amazon have been identified in past national news reports as having many workers reliant on Medicaid.

Senior administration officials said nearly 1,000 employers would be affected, meaning they have at least 50 full-time workers on Medicaid. At a projected $30 million a year in revenue, that means those businesses share about 200,000 workers reliant on public health benefits.

“They should share in the burden of paying for their employees’ care, rather than leaving it to the rest of us,” Murphy said in his budget speech.

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president Tom Bracken said the proposal is piled on to other new burdens for businesses – the millionaires’ tax, now at income over $5 million but which Murphy wants to extend to $1 million, a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave and expanded family leave benefits.

“It’s not necessarily right now the amount of money, it’s the fact that it just keeps on coming. And if it doesn’t stop, what’s going to be the add-on next year?” Bracken said.

“If they keep being ladled with fees and taxes, they’re not going to see any way out of this,” he said. “And they’re not going to be incented to stay here and grow here, and no company is going be incented to come here.”

The idea is borrowed from Massachusetts. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, who has come out in opposition of new broad-based tax increases, said the fee is new to New Jersey and will be examined.

“That may be something that Democrats can get behind, that we can in our caucus. But I think it’s a bit premature to either wholly embrace it or reject it,” Coughlin said.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, said corporations already pay a Medicaid payroll tax.

“So this is simply a double tax,” Bramnick said. “And it’s another way to increase taxes which the governor gave an interesting reason for, but it is double taxation.”

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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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