Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo on Monday told the New Jersey Globe that the brewing feud between Gov. Phil Murphy and Democratic power broker George Norcross could make passing a budget before July 1 more difficult.
“Sure it does,” Sarlo said when asked whether the spat could imperil the upcoming year’s budget. “Anytime there’s animosity between leaders, you run that risk.”
Murphy, Norcross and South jersey Democrats aligned with the latter have taken up arms as tensions between the groups rise over investigations into abuses of tax incentives offered by the Economic Development Authority.
At a recent hearing of the EDA task force convened by Murphy, several Camden-based firms with ties to Norcross — including Cooper University Health Services, whose board of trustees Norcross chairs — were shown to have potentially misrepresented their intentions to move jobs out of state in order to secure larger tax incentive awards.
Since then, Senate President Steve Sweeney, a longtime friend of Norcross, has skipped a meeting with the governor and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and announced the formation of a select committee on the EDA that sources have told the New Jersey Globe could end up investigating Murphy’s task force.
Legislative leaders also oppose a millionaire’s tax sought by Murphy.
The policy was a sticking point during last year’s budget negotiations and could further complicate this year’s budget fight.
Despite the early signs of conflict, the budget deadline is weeks away, and Sarlo said a government it wasn’t yet time to start discussing a government shutdown.
“It’s way too early to talk about a shutdown,” he said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to avoid any type of government shutdown. I will do everything in my power to avoid that.”