Murphy prepared to line-item veto Legislature’s budget

Julie Daurio, Producer | June 19, 2019 | Politics

In a letter addressed Wednesday to all members of the state Legislature, Gov. Phil Murphy sharply criticized the budget they plan to send him this week — both for what it includes and what it leaves out.

At the top of that list: his proposal to increase the tax rate on income above $1 million.

“There has not been a credible reason offered to continue to prevent a policy as sound and bipartisan as this,” Murphy wrote. “We can and must find common ground.”

But Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have repeatedly said they will not post a version of the budget for a vote that includes the millionaire’s tax.

Murphy also signaled Wednesday that he is prepared to line-item veto spending out of the budget that he says relies on unrealistic and unsustainable revenue projections.

While he doesn’t name specific spending items in the letter, Murphy is likely referring to hundreds of millions in new spending the Legislature has added to the budget, including $173 million in new property tax relief, $50 million more for extraordinary special education and an extra $50 million for NJ Transit on top of what was included in Murphy’s $38.6 billion proposal.

“If this budget contains the revenue for your added spending, I will work with you. But if not, I will be forced to take corrective action,” the letter reads.

Murphy also criticized the Legislature for what he calls “indefensible and needless cuts” to his tuition-free community college pilot program and for cutting his plan to raise gun fees.

The Senate and Assembly budget committees approved the $38.7 billion budget Monday. It will likely go to a vote in both houses Thursday, 10 days before the June 30 budget deadline.