Progressive groups push Legislature on millionaire’s tax

Julie Daurio, Producer | June 10, 2019 | Politics

Supporters of Gov. Phil Murphy’s millionaire’s tax rallied in its favor, even as political momentum for the proposal continues to slow in Trenton.

On Monday, a coalition of progressive groups announced that more than 100 organizations had signed on to a letter urging legislators to support the governor’s proposal to hike income taxes on earnings above $1 million.

Murphy remains adamant that any budget from lawmakers include the millionaire’s tax. But Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin are opposed to the idea and say they have no plans to release a budget that includes it.

An increasing number of Democratic legislators have seen the writing on the wall and now say that while they support the millionaire’s tax, they are also willing to vote for a budget that doesn’t include it.

Sue Altman, state director of New Jersey Working Families, says her organization is calling on the Legislature to separate the millionaire’s tax proposal from the budget so that legislators who say they support it can vote in its favor.

“We are not going to fall for the idea that you would if you could but you can’t. That’s not going to work,” Altman said. “This millionaire’s tax is extremely popular among Democrats and it’s extremely popular among voters and it is something that absolutely needs to happen for health and sustainability of this state.”

When asked Monday about posting a millionaire’s tax bill for a vote in the Assembly, top Democrats signaled no change in their positions.

“The votes are not in either house,” said Sweeney. “I can’t speak for the speaker, but the votes are not in the [Senate] to pass a millionaire’s tax and that’s why we’re not putting it up.”

“I have been pretty crystal clear on the notion that this is not a time to have a millionaire’s tax,” Couglin added.

If Sweeney and Coughlin continue to oppose the millionaire’s tax and Murphy won’t sign a budget without it, a government shutdown, beginning July 1, seems likely.