Democratic legislators representing Paterson skipped out on attending a Press conference Gov. Phil Murphy held there on Wednesday.
“We always invite hometown legislators, and I think they legitimately couldn’t be here today,” Murphy said. “Benjie and Shavonda and Nellie have been great allies of ours across a whole range of interests, and Mila can back me up on that. They’ve been consistently there for us, so I’ve got no gripe whatsoever.”
Assemblywoman Mila Jasey was the only state lawmaker to join Murphy at Wednesday’s press conference on cuts to the governor’s tuition-free community college program in the legislature’s budget.
The three lawmakers who represent the 35th legislative district, which encompasses Paterson, all said at one point that they backed Murphy’s proposal for a millionaire’s tax, though the levels of support they offered varied.
Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, who was among the first to back Murphy’s proposal, was also among the first to pull his support, saying he believed the state could pass a budget that did not include a millionaire’s tax.
Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter also backed the proposal and later declined to say if she would support a budget that did not include a millionaire’s tax, State Sen. Nellie Pou said she would vote in favor of a millionaire’s tax if one was posted.
All three LD35 lawmakers ended up voting in favor of the legislative budget, which did not include a tax hike for the state’s high earners.