Governor Phil Murphy is pressing for millions of dollars in tax increases to balance his proposed state budget.

But state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) have both indicated their opposition to new tax hikes, which could spell trouble.

If an agreement isn’t reached on a new state budget by the end of June, New Jersey government would, by law, be shut down, —which would mean, among other things, that Motor Vehicle Commission offices would close, and state parks and beaches could be closed for the Fourth of July long weekend.

There’s been increasing speculation that scenario could happen, but Gov. Murphy seems very confident he’ll be able to hammer out an agreement with legislative leaders.

Then-Gov. Chris Christie became a subject of ridicule last year, when he took his family to a gubernatorial home on Island Beach State Park — despite the fact that the park shut down along with the rest of the state government during his own impasse with legislative leaders.

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During an event in Bayonne on Monday, the current governor said “we speak, either literally directly, in groups or our teams, all the time. I’m very optimistic we’re going to be able to work something out.”

He stressed people should not believe everything they read about both sides being far apart on negotiating a deal, because legislative leaders are more focused on how money is invested than raised — “which to me says we need the investment. Let’s just figure out how we raise it.”

Murphy then said he feels very comfortable with the budget he’s presented, “which is an historic investment in the middle class, and in the dreams who look up and aspire to get into the middle class. That’s what our budget is about. That’s what a stronger, fairer New Jersey is about.”

The governor stressed “you don’t make economic progress without social progress, you don’t make social progress without economic progress.”

Murphy said that means creating good jobs, “investing historically in public education, extending it both forward, to pre-K, and beyond to community college.”

The governor said his proposed budget is all about helping the residents of New Jersey who need help the most.

“The middle class has been somewhere between ignored and ravaged over the past 8 years, it’s high time to reinvest with gusto into the middle class," he said.

Murphy added he’s proud of the fact that the budget proposal has an historically low reliance on one-time revenue items.

“I think the world wants to see us behave again like adults," he said. "The rating agencies certainly do. I think our citizens do — that we’re not a state anymore that’s run on one gimmick attached to another.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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