Aftermath of a nasty battle ending in no shutdown

Donald Scarinci wrote in on June 25 “Governor Phil Murphy has modeled his administration using President Kennedy’s playbook.” In his Inaugural Address Kennedy said, “So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” 

Murphy pursued that path to its long and protracted end even through Saturday afternoon just hours before a shutdown was set to occur. But even at that last moment he was polite in saying, “I would ask the Legislature to consider following my compromise measures.” Sweeney, the iron worker, sometimes comes through as more of a tough street brawler.

After multiple iterations of the budget (like Plan A through through Plan G) Murphy could have done what many presidents (Trump) and governors (Christie) would do. That is to make clear what key items he expected in the budget and not in the budget, and to firmly state he would otherwise veto it. Instead, he continued reiterating, “All things are on the table.”

Perhaps Murphy pursued it too long and should have vetoed it earlier, insisting on a better deal, after all he is the new Governor with a mandate and elections do matter. However an intra-party shutdown would have been no good for either the Governor or the Legislature as they are Democrats and should be able to solve their differences.

The two main players were Murphy and Sweeney. Their differences were really not about policy, particularly toward the end, but about power. As an 8-year powerful Senate President, Sweeney had seen his chances of running for governor decimated early on by Murphy, and later he saw Murphy supporting unions in opposition to Sweeney’s race for the Senate. Wanting to be the alpha male in Trenton, Sweeney appeared determined to force Murphy to back down. Other differences were philosophical with Murphy more progressive than Sweeney, regional with Murphy’s support more in the North and Sweeney’s in the South, and political with Murphy not beholden to a particular boss and Sweeney under the influence of George Norcross.

Perhaps, nearing the strike of midnight they realized that indeed what unites them was greater than what divides them. So in the In the end it was a give-and-take arrangement with Murphy getting his millionaire’s tax but starting not at $1 million as he wanted but at $5 million and Sweeney getting his corporation tax under an arrangement he had not originally proposed. While Sweeney still remains a strong, if diminished force, Murphy came out of it somewhat battered and hardened, but he still is on track to begin implementing his progressive agenda, just not as fully as he wanted. Hopefully the nastiness will recede as both the Governor and Legislature will face difficult times in the coming years as they grapple with increasingly tough  budgetary problems.

( Gov. Murphy in preview photo and Senate President Sweeney (above) speak to reporters at a Trenton press conference after state leaders struck an eleventh-hour budget deal to avert a state government shutdown. (S.P. Sullivan | NJ Advance Media for

Comments (4)

  1. Bertin Lefkovic

    This is far too kind to Phil Murphy. Neither his original budget nor this mess of a compromise are progressive by any definition of the word. For all we know, this entire psychodrama was a morality play cooked up by Murphy and Sweeney months ago.

    But if not, Murphy should resign in disgrace after being manhandled by Coughlin and Sweeney to the degree that he was. He dug his own grave last year when he refused to engage the leadership battle and use the full weight of his soon-to-be-elected office to ensure that the Senate President and Assembly Speaker were loyal to him and not George Norcross.

    Former Acting Governor and Senate President Dick Codey was one of his earliest supporters. Murphy should have done everything in his power to make sure that he was reinstated to his former leadership position.

    I am no fan of former Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and as much as I would prefer to see someone like Andrew Zwicker become Assembly Speaker, the smart move from Murphy’s perspective should have been to fight to retain him in his former leadership position.

    If Murphy has not already begun the process of recruiting 2019 primary challengers for those Assemblypersons who are loyal to Norcross instead of him, then he does not deserve to retain his office in 2021.

    Our Revolution created a People’s Platform ( in 2017 for their Summer of Progress. We should do the same thing here in NJ that includes, but is not limited to:

    A progressive budget that abolishes the property tax and replaces it with increased state income and sales taxes, a progressive surtax on incomes over $500K, increased taxes on property sales greater than $1MM.

    An end to home rule that consolidates municipal governments and local school districts into county governments and county school districts.

    The legalization and taxation of marijuana that is not dominated by corporate cannibusinesses.

    The liquidation of the public employees pension fund and equitable distribution to legitimate public employees, not elected or appointed officials.

    1. Bertin Lefkovic

      I forgot to include obtaining an ACA waiver to repurpose money spent in New Jersey to subsidize the purchase of private insurance through the federal exchange to expand Medicaid coverage of adults earning 350% of the poverty line or less, bringing it in line with sCHIP so that both parents and children can receive the same healthcare coverage.

      Contracts with Medicaid HMOs/MCOs should be renegotiated, requiring them to sell the same plans provided to New Jersey Family Care recipients to the general public at the same premium price that the state pays.

      If these private insurance companies refuse, the state should break their contracts with them and provide/sell coverage directly.

      1. Bertin Lefkovic

        I also forgot to increase the minimum wage to $15 RIGHT NOW, not in 2024.

  2. Anthony

    Sweeney is a Thug, a Criminal and an uneducated Bum who should NOT be President of Senate.

    Sweeney, Norcross and their regime have committed Serious crimes in the USA and abroad and they should be held accountable. They have masked and covered up their criminal activities for decades. They have Bullied governments and people with their corrupt laws and they are known for Dividing Democrats and making phone calls to set up people they want to destroy

    Every dog has its day. The Darkness they’ve done will come to light. South Jersey is Divided terribly. We have democrats running against Norcross democrats because it is SOnbad in south jersey. People are depressed and discussed with the Sweeney / Norcross dog and only show. It’s such a disgrace Sweeney and Norcross; Geade School Drop outs are controlling anything in N.J. and now he is slowly working his way in Nationally. Norcross and Sweeney are 100% Pure Evil. These men have NO Heart or Soul. They are Demonic and relentless in pursing destruction. How could they gain this much power. Who is allowing this? Are they part of a Secret Society they has FBI agents; politicians; Oligarchs; rich investors; federal judges; corrupt Media outlets; the banks and cyber security companies protecting them. This has to be the only explanation. They’ve are a pact that has sold their souls to the Devil. It’s like the movie; The Devils Advocate. We are in a time of evil and deception. The Anti Christ’s are among us and they are right here in living color. It’s is clear Sweeney and Norcross are part of this Anti Christ pack, no doubt. We must pray and remain prayed up against these evil, wicked Souls and remember that God has All power. Jesus is the truth and the way. In time, God will deal swiftly with these Evil Jersey Devils. Psalm 37. Fret NOT yourself because of evil doers for they shall soon disappear like grass without rain


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