N.J. Democrat legislature passes $38.7B budget with help from seven GOP senators

N.J. Democrat legislature passes $38.7B budget with help from seven GOP senators

TRENTON, N.J. – By a vote of 31-6, the New Jersey State Senate passed a budget on Thursday that lacks tax hikes and fees sought by Governor Murphy but which does nothing to cut spending and accomplishes little towards tackling budget cost drivers. The Assembly voted to pass it 53-24.

Democrats overwhelmingly backed the measure in both chambers. No Assembly GOP members voted ‘yea.’ Republican state Senators Bateman of Somerset County, Kristin Corrado of Bergen County, Declan O’Scanlon of Monmouth County, Joe Pennacchio of Morris County, Bob Singer of Ocean County, Sam Thompson of Middlesex County, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. of Union County all voted in favor of passing the budget.

NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt slammed the FY 2020 budget proposal as equally terrible to anything concocted by Phil Murphy.

“Today, legislative Democrats captured the state budget and held it hostage,” Steinhardt. “They are offering New Jersey a Hobson’s Choice: tax everything that walks, talks, sleeps, shoots, rains and parks, OR use fake math, New Jersey’s recession fund and pounds and pounds of pork barrel spending to appease politicians and political patrons. 

“Let’s be clear, the budget that passed today is as shameful a product as anything Governor Murphy has ever offered. It does nothing to address the pension crisis, offer budget savings or provide meaningful tax relief.,” Steinardt added. “Ideological diversity is the state’s last, best hope. Instead of racing to spend $38.8 billion in taxes and fees, our State representatives should be racing to find ways to put money back into taxpayers’ pockets. Trenton Democrats are in a war over power, not ideas, and New Jersey’s 9 million residents are paying the price. It’s time for honest answers. It’s time for change.”

One of the state’s business groups offered a more optimistic assessment in light of the Democrats’ decision to forego a Medicaid tax or higher millionaire’s tax proposed by Governor Murphy.

“The leadership in the Senate and Assembly and every member who voted for this budget deserve credit for rejecting higher taxes and fees, for addressing high property taxes, and very importantly, for working to address the state pension costs that endangering the future of all New Jersey taxpayers,” opined Laurie Ehlbeck, state director of NFIB in New Jersey.

The Governor must now veto the budget altogether, issue a line-item veto, or sign it into law. The Democrats’ high passage margins in both chambers makes an override of any far-reaching veto all the more likely.