Gov. Phil Murphy declined to shut the state government down over the millionaire’s tax only minutes after declining to rule out signing a budget without the same on Tuesday.
“Literally all options are on the table across the entire spectrum and they’ll remain on the table,” Murphy said when asked whether he was willing to sign a budget that did not include a tax on high earners at a press conference Thursday.
About two minutes later, he said almost exactly the same thing about shutting down the state government over the issue.
Legislators have yet to send their budget to Murphy’s desk.
The bills cleared committees in both chambers on Monday and are scheduled for a full vote before both chambers on Thursday.
Murphy declined to indicated when — or what — actions he would take when that budget reaches his desk.
“You should expect us to have all options on the table and every part of the clock on the table,” he said.
The veto threats Murphy has issued this year have been meek compared to those the governor issued during last year’s negotiations, when lawmakers reached a deal that included a tax on households making more than $5 million.
At least, that’s the case for veto threats related to the state’s budget.
He’s been far more uncompromising on his threat to veto an extension of two troubled tax incentive programs run by the Economic Development Authority.
Murphy began Tuesday’s press conference, where he was flanked by union leaders that back his proposal for a millionaire’s tax, by restating his promise to veto the extension if it was not coupled with reforms to the programs.
“This system cannot be allowed to continue for one day past June 30th. to do so would be to ignore both the facts presented by the task force and the facts presented by the communities left struggling in the shadows of the buildings this system built,” Murphy said. “Let me be, once again, perfectly clear. If the legislature sends me a bill to renew this system as-is without the necessary reforms, it will be vetoed.”
At the moment, Murphy has garnered little support for the millionaire’s tax within the legislature.
Thirteen legislators publicly backed the proposal at one point, though the majority of those later moderated their stances, saying they would vote for the millionaire’s tax if it was posted, cutting down Murphy’s power to negotiate with legislative leaders.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney have repeatedly said they do not intend to post the millionaire’s tax for a vote.
The only tax hike included in this year’s legislative budget is one that ups the tax on HMO premiums from 2% to 3%.
Put simply, there appears to be little hope for the millionaire’s tax short of any last-minute budget surprises.
At times on Tuesday, Murphy appeared to indicate that he was already looking past this year’s budget in his bid to secure a tax on millionaires.
“The work on the budget doesn’t end on June 30, and let me be clear that we are not going away on June 30,” Murphy said. “Tax fairness is not simply a budget issue. It is an issue of equality, of fairness and of investing in middle-class priorities like education and transportation and healthcare, so to every legislator willing to kick the can down the road instead of picking it up and doing what’s needed right now, I want to be perfectly clear: The pressure to pass a millionaire’s tax will intensify and not lessen if it is not included in this budget.”