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Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

New Direction creates millionaire’s tax petition

Petition asks Sweeney, Coughlin to post measure for a vote

By Nikita Biryukov, June 11 2019 11:00 am

The Murphy-aligned dark money group New Direction New Jersey on Tuesday launched an online petition seeking to force Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to post Gov. Phil Murphy’s millionaire’s tax proposal for a vote.

“Democrats in the State Legislature have said consistently that the Millionaire’s Tax is the right policy to make our state a fairer and more equitable place while providing much needed tax relief to millions of middle-class residents,” said Philip Swibinski, spokesman for New Direction NJ.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the members of the Assembly and the progressive activists who stand with the 70% of New Jerseyans supporting tax fairness, and we join their call for Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin to post the Millionaire’s Tax immediately for an up or down vote. This is a clear choice — stand with the middle class and all those working to get there, or protect millionaires.”

Murphy had garnered support for the millionaire’s tax from some members of the Assembly, but many of those members have moderated their support over the last week, saying they’d either vote for the millionaire’s tax if it was posted or that they were willing to support a budget that did not include a millionaire’s tax.

Many cited the unlikelihood of the proposal getting a vote on the floor in statements tempering their stances on one of Murphy’s trademark policy measures.

New Direction, a 501(c)(4) run by consultants with close ties to Murphy, has more than once drawn the ire of Coughlin and Sweeney.

The two raised alarms earlier this year after New Direction aired a television ad pushing the millionaire’s tax that featured the governor.

A bill passed by the legislature yesterday would impose donor-disclosure requirements on groups like New Direction.

Murphy will sign that bill as part of a deal reached to avoid the first veto override in more than two decades.

The ebbing of support for the millionaire’s tax has been confined to the legislature’s lower chamber.

Fewer senators are backing the measure in the Senate.

So far, four senators have said they were backing a budget with a millionaire’s tax. State Sen. Nellie Pou said she’d vote for a millionaire’s tax if it was posted for a vote.

There don’t appear to be any concerted efforts to bring those four senators back into the fold.

“I’m not posting it, so it doesn’t matter,” Sweeney told the New Jersey Globe Monday when asked if he’d attempt to change the minds of pro-millionaire’s tax senators.

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