Over Coffee, Murphy and Dem Leaders Toast Wage Accord

NJTV News | January 30, 2019 | Politics
Democratic governor and legislative leaders, often at odds with each other, share rare kumbaya moment

Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, the often battling leaders of the Democratic Party in New Jersey, shared a cup of coffee Tuesday morning at the Ocean Bay Diner in South Amboy.

In two days the Legislature is expected to pass the minimum wage bill they negotiated.

“This took some time because there’s some stubborn personalities here — me. But the speaker’s leadership on this has been remarkable, and his leadership has actually led to a compromise and a deal getting done,” Sweeney said.

Democrats are supposed to get along, but Sweeney and Murphy have a fraught relationship. The two are expected to spar again over Murphy’s budget, a contest over the governor’s spending priorities and what Sweeney calls the state’s “financial crisis.”

The diner’s owner, Teddy Lutas, made things somewhat awkward when he told reporters that the bill could put him out of business. Coughlin’s office subsequently put out a news release quoting Lutas: “I was not fully aware that the minimum wage increase will be phased in over five years. That’s why I’m so happy Speaker Coughlin took the time to talk me through the plan…”

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