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Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Murphy won’t browbeat legislative leaders on millionaires tax

New poll shows 72% of New Jersey — and 48% of Republicans — support tax increase on millionaires

By Nikita Biryukov, April 04 2019 12:37 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy’s push for a millionaires tax got a boost from a poll released Thursday that showed residents in the state overwhelmingly supported the proposal, but the governor said he wasn’t planning to use those figures to push Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin into supporting the measure.

“I tend not to beat people over the head with anything,” Murphy said when asked if he’d use the proposal’s popularity to browbeat legislative leaders into backing the tax.

A poll jointly conducted by Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics and Fairleigh Dickinson University found 72% of the state backed the millionaires tax, while 28% opposed the same.

The millionaires tax has been a point of contention between Murphy and top Democrats in the state’s legislature since last budget season, when the proposal became a major hurdle for budget negotiations that almost ended in a government shutdown.

Sweeney, Coughlin and Murphy eventually compromised on a multi-millionaire tax bracket for those making more than $5 million a year, but Murphy is once again seeking a millionaires tax in this year’s budget.

Sweeney and Coughlin have said they would not pass a budget with any new taxes this year, but it’s unclear what effect, if any, the proposed tax’s popularity will have on that stance.

Still, even if the poll does little to move legislative leaders — Murphy himself has said multiple times, including on Thursday, that he doesn’t put much stock into polls — the governor was heartened to see widespread support for a policy he championed on the campaign trail in 2017.

“I have to say it is rewarding to see that over 70%. You don’t get many things that poll over 70%,” Murphy said. “It’s over 70% of folks in the state believe it’s the right thing to do, and that is rewarding. I was a little bit surprised — not shocked, but a little bit surprised.”

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