Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin doesn’t expect this year’s budget to pass easily.
“I think that passing the budget, in my experience — I’ve only had one year of experience — it’s hard. It’s always hard,” Couglin said. “I think it’s going to be hard again this year because the Senate President and I both have said we’re not in favor of a millionaire’s tax. Governor [Phil Murphy] is clearly in favor of that, and I think that’s what’s going to be the focal point, and we’ll figure it out.”
Last year’s Democratic budget fight ran into the same issue, with Murphy pushing for a tax on high-earners and a hike of the state’s income tax and legislative leaders aiming for an increase in the state’s corporate business tax.
Murphy, Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney eventually reached a compromise, creating a new income tax bracket for those making more than $5 million per year and hiking the state’s business tax.
But, this year’s budget fight could be further complicated by an ongoing feud between Murphy and Democratic kingmaker George Norcross, a longtime friend of Sweeney’s.
Coughlin’s staying out of that fight, and he doesn’t expect it to complicate the budget, at least not for him.
“Not for me it doesn’t,” Coughlin said when asked if the feud would make passing this year’s budget more difficult. “I’m committed to working to get a budget done that’s good and right.”