Last minute haggling over the budget before the June 30 deadline has dominated political news this week. The debate over how to fund a tax cut has sparked a lot of activity in the State House. The Senate Budget Committee approved a millionaire’s tax Thursday and the Assembly Budget Committee did the same today. Political strategists Brendan Gill and Dale Florio joined NJ Today Senior Correspondent Desiree Taylor to discuss the week in politics.
Democratic Strategist Gill said the millionaire’s tax is an important part of having a responsible state budget. “I think we have agreement on both sides of the aisle that tax cuts are a good thing, but there’s two fundamental questions — who’s going to pay for these tax cuts and are we going to have the revenue to support it?” Gill said. “The millionaire’s tax, which would produce over $700 million in new revenue for the state is a very responsible way to make sure that those people in the state who can afford it are paying their fair share and to make sure we have a budget that’s not balanced on the backs of the hardworking middle class people of the state.”
But Republican Strategist Florio disagreed. “The millionaire’s tax is nothing more than placing a tax on a big part of New Jersey’s economy that helps drive this economy,” he said. “[The Democrats] just want to get the money and spend money on programs. This governor has put a control on spending in this state and for these people who have been contributing to the economy, a millionaires tax is just going to take us back to the pre-Christie days and back to the Corzine days.”
Gov. Chris Christie has spoken publicly against the millionaire’s tax and Florio said the governor will veto such a tax. “It’s dead on arrival,” Florio said.
When asked why the Democrats want to include a millionaire’s tax when it’s clear Christie doesn’t want it, Gill said, “It’s the right thing to do. And the Democrats have said consistently — the leadership of the Democratic Party — that those in the state who can afford it need to pay their fair share.”
Gill also said that Christie is proposing a state budget with revenue projections that are the most optimistic in the country while New Jersey lags behind the national average in terms of economic recovery. “All the Democratic leadership has said is, ‘Fine, if you want to have a tax cut, we agree potentially on having a tax cut, but we want to make sure that we can pay for that tax cut,'” Gill explained.
There has been some dissent among Democrats, but Gill said he believes Senate President Steve Sweeney and Speaker Sheila Oliver will have the votes to move the Assembly budget forward.
Florio said a handful of Democrats don’t like the way others in their party are working on the budget, but he believes an agreement will be reached by the June 30 deadline. He also said there are other underlying issues in the budget process like tenure reform and the proposed university merger.
“I would say at the end of the day the budget will pass and some of those major issues will be accomplished, but it’s not over until it’s over and we’ll be working on it until sometime next week,” Florio said.