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Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Gordon Johnson

Johnson not ready to back millionaire’s tax

Assemblyman suggests path exists for Murphy proposal

By Nikita Biryukov, May 06 2019 3:17 pm

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson isn’t ready to back a millionaire’s tax, but the Democratic leader said a path forward for the measure may exist despite the opposition of Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

“I’m not there yet on the millionaire’s tax. I’d like to see a little more negotiation, a little more dialogue about it,” Johnson said. “Recognizing that it will bring in some vast sums of money that the state sorely needs and also recognizing that the recreational or adult-use marijuana is probably not going to come into play until late in this budget year. I think that finding an additional source of revenue is very important.”

Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed imposing a 10.75% marginal tax on income over $1 million, making a second push on one of his central campaign promises.

Sweeney and Coughlin have openly opposed the plan. They said they would oppose new taxes months ahead of Murphy’s budget address in March, when he revealed he would once again seek a millionaire’s tax.

Last year, Democratic legislative leaders approved a new tax bracket for residents making more than $5 million per year. That marginal rate is also 10.75%.

“I just need to see a little bit more information on this bill and maybe a little more negotiation on this,” Johnson said. “Maybe 1.5 million or whatever it may be. Numbers go up and down all the time in the budget process, so I just need to hear a little more information on it, that’s all. I’m not committing yet.”

Given their past statements, it’s unlikely that Sweeney and Coughlin will go for the millionaire’s tax, but Johnson didn’t think the measure was dead in the water, even if wasn’t sure it could pass a vote before the Assembly.

Lawmakers must approve a budget before July 1 or face a government shutdown.

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