Democrats planning to be on tonight’s call with Gov. Phil Murphy to hear him out on the budget impasse with legislative leadership in his own party can get a preview of the governor’s resolve in this press conference just ended (and posted below). He took his stand surrounded on the stage by union leaders, gun safety advocates and the heads of progressive and environmental organizations – but no legislators standing with him. He did have State Treasurer Liz Muoio next to him as he took issue with the legislative leadership’s revenue projections, a crux of his argument that their budget is not sustainable. Right now, he is hanging tough, and shooting for support from the Democratic base. Note that tonight’s call is sponsored by the state Democratic Party. And note that Senate President Steve Sweeney of South Jersey, who once thought he’d be governor now and prepared for that with years of enabling Chris Christie, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin of Middlesex, in his 5th month as Speaker, are also both Democrats.
“I cannot sign a budget I know ultimately will hurt the very people it needs to lift up. And I won’t sign it.” – Murphy
With negotiations with Sweeney and Coughlin going nowhere, Murphy’s going beyond them; calling a meeting today with a broader spectrum of legislative leaders; about a dozen overall, 4 to 6 from each chamber.
“This budget marks a return to Chris Christie’s New Jersey. And, silly me, I thought we had moved on. It relies on short term revenues for long term problems. The type of budget that led to the 11 credit downgrades we experienced over the past 8 years.” – Murphy, on the Legislature’s budget
We are 5 days to the June 30 deadline, with a state shutdown both possible and a likelihood that Murphy has ordered the departments of state leadership to prepare for. Murphy says that’s plenty of time to fix this. Stay tuned.
“The Governor is truly, truly committed to pulling this state out of the morass it has been in fiscally. This budget represents movement toward pulling us out of that morass. I can tell you after 14 years in the legislature, each year that I was there – and the 4 years I served as Speaker – we knew that actions were undertaken that with each consecutive year, would pull more and more money was being taken out of our general fund. You often hear in Trenton, you can’t kick the can down the road any further. This budget, Gov. Murphy is committing to the people of New Jersey: The can is going to stop being kicked down the road.” – LG Sheila Oliver
Note: Click the video box to go to Gov. Murphy’s YouTube channel to watch. Video is 29 minutes.