Assemblywoman Mila Jasey is making appearances at Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget press conferences.
As far as the Assembly goes, she’s alone in that.
On Wednesday, Jasey attended her second Murphy budget presser in three days. Legislators representing Paterson, where the press conference was held, skipped the event.
Jasey took to speak in favor of the governor’s proposal for tuition-free community college, for which legislators cut funding in the budget they sent to Murphy’s desk last week.
“Gov. Murphy could not be more right in advocating for increased funding for the [Community College Opportunity Grant] program,” Jasey said Wednesday. “More money means more students will be able to attend and succeed, obtaining degrees and certifications, and they will be able to do so without incurring the staggering debt that so many of our residents, especially our young people experience.”
Murphy has honed in on cuts to the program as the state’s budget deadline nears, and Jasey, who chairs the Assembly Higher Education Committee, is in his corner there.
That allegiance could prove a saving grace to Murphy if Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin opts to pursue an override of a line-item veto Murphy is expected to issue in the coming days — the governor has declined to say what action he’d take on the budget that reporters did not repeat questions over the same on Wednesday.
The legislative budget cleared the Assembly with 53 votes last Thursday. The only Democrat to not vote for it in that Chamber was Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, who was on maternity leave and did not attend the day’s session.
No Republicans voted to back the bill, and they’ll likely find it politically difficult to join in on an override given that, if he issues a veto, Murphy will likely target Democratic legislative priorities that he’s taken to referring to as “pork” over the last few days.
“I said this to a group last week, there’s another sort of big paradox here. You can’t go around the state talking about how we’re in dire fiscal straits and if we don’t change all sorts of programs that impact our public sector employees we’re going to go to hell in a handbasket and at the same time give me a budget that adds multiple hundreds of millions of dollars of pork.”
Jasey is one of the top supporters of Murphy’s agenda in the legislature. She shares a district with former Gov. Dick Codey, the governor’s staunchest ally in the State Senate, and First Lady Tammy Murphy has helped the assemblywoman fundraise for her re-election campaign.
If Murphy is looking to flip a vote an override vote in the Assembly, she’s probably his best target.