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Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, left, with Senate President Steve Sweeney. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Budget headed to Murphy’s desk

Assembly clears appropriations bill in 53-24 vote along party lines

By Nikita Biryukov, June 20 2019 5:22 pm

Legislators sent their budget to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk on Thursday.

The Senate advanced the bill in a 31-6 vote that included yes votes from seven of the chamber’s Republican members.

State Sens. Joe Pennacchio, Declan O’Scanlon, Kip Bateman, Kristin Corrado, Bob Singer, Sam Thompson and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean voted to back the budget.

In the Assembly, the bill passed by a narrower — though still rather broad — margin.

In that chamber, the budget passed 53-24 in a vote along party lines.

Only one Democrat, Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, did not vote for the bill. She was on maternity leave and missed Thursday’s voting session.

Coughlin demurred when asked if he could rally the votes needed to override.

“I’m not going to speculate, first, on what the governor might or might do,” Coughlin said. “As I said, I hope the governor will sit down and reflect on the budget and come to the same conclusion that 53 of us came to us today, and that is that this is a good, solid budget and that he’ll sign it.”

Democrats were one vote short of a veto-proof majority on Thursday — Murphy could still veto the budget if it got 54 votes.

Coughlin and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald said Mosquera would have voted in favor of the budget, though it isn’t clear which way she’d break on an override.

Though Murphy has stopped short of saying outright that he would send back the budget, through an outright or a line-item veto, he said in letter to lawmakers on Wednesday that he would be forced to take “corrective action” if legislators advanced their budget as-is.

Asked later in the day what exactly “corrective action” entailed, Murphy simply repeated that all options were on the table.

The governor was similarly coy Tuesday about when he might take any action on the budget.

He’s likely to wait the allotted 45 days before vetoing a seven-month extension of troubled tax incentive programs administrated by the Economic Development Authority, but he hasn’t given any indication of when he would take action on the budget, saying only that “every part of the clock” was on the table.

The two camps don’t have any meetings planned over the next few days, but Coughlin said that could change in little more than a heartbeat.

“There are no meetings scheduled to this point, but that can change in 30 seconds. I am available to talk to the governor at his request,” Coughlin said. “Last year, this is about the same time that we passed the budget. We went into some discussions subsequent to that. I think that that might reoccur this year.

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