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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

No progress in budget talks since last week, Murphy says

Governor says EDA programs not part of negotiations

By Nikita Biryukov, June 24 2019 3:06 pm

There’s been no progress in budget negotiations since last week, Gov. Phil Murphy said at a press conference Monday.

“We haven’t closed any of the gaps yet,” the governor said. “Again, thankful that the budget that we got back from the legislature included an overwhelming amount of our priorities, and I can’t say that more strongly. We are not there in terms of our ability to button down their revenues and my being able to certify those revenues.”

Also of issue are the legislative budget’s cuts to the funding levels for his free community college program and the lack of a millionaire’s tax, Murphy said.

On the revenue side, Murphy’s office is questioning why the legislature believes the state will receive $100 million in repatriated funds from the state’s corporate business tax.

State Treasurer Liz Muoio included a similar line item in last year’s budget but that item was expected to be a one-year revenue booster.

At a press conference last week, Assembly leaders those figures lined up with projections issued by the office of legislative services, but they don’t.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo pointed to testimony Muoio gave on the matter, but Murphy’s administration doesn’t agree that they’ll hold for the coming fiscal year.

Though lawmakers have made little headway over the weekend, Murphy said that both sides are still in talks, mostly at the staff level.

That wasn’t true for parts of last year’s budget negotiations.

Fortunate for those negotiations is that a rift between Murphy and lawmakers over tax incentives meted out by the Economic Development Authority hasn’t bled into budget negotiations.

On Thursday, lawmakers sent a bill extending two controversial EDA programs for seven months to Murphy’s desk.

The governor repeated his vow to veto that bill if it was not coupled with reforms Monday, adding that the issue wasn’t a sticking point in budget negotiations less than seven days out from the budget deadline.

“It hasn’t been a part of budget negotiations, no,” Murphy said. “I think we have to prove that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We’re one of the largest American states. The job I’ve got is very complex. The job the legislators have, I need not tell them, is very complex. We have to be able to prove that we can travel along multiple tracks at the same time — walk and chew gum, if you will, at the same time.”

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