Home>Governor>Report: Sweeney offer to trade millionaires tax for pension funding

Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney visit pre-K classrooms at Oakview Elementary School in the West Deptford School District to discuss the benefits of expanding pre-K education and his FY2020 Budget on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Edwin J. Torres/ Governor's Office.)

Report: Sweeney offer to trade millionaires tax for pension funding

Murphy must find $1 billion in state budget

By David Wildstein, February 23 2020 4:00 pm

Senate President Steve Sweeney will consider a millionaires tax if Gov. Phil Murphy offers an extra $1 billion to fund New Jersey’s public employee pension fund,” the Star-Ledger reported today.

That could give Murphy a big political win – the governor has made two unsuccessful bids to tax incomes over $1 million – but he might find it unfeasible to find an extra $1 billion in New Jersey’s $38.7 billion budget.

“The Governor thanks the Senate President for his willingness to work together on reinstating the millionaires tax in the upcoming state budget and looks forward to partnering to continue our efforts to make historic payments into our pension system, keep promises to our public sector workers, and make greater investments in the middle class,” said Dan Bryan, a senior advisor to Murphy, in a statement.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, who is the third person in the room in state budget negotiations, has not yet commented on Sweeney’s proposal.

The Democratic majority in the Legislature shut down Murphy’s millionaires tax in 2018 and 2019.

If Murphy gets his tax through this year, he will have succeeded on some of his major initiatives as governor.  A referendum on the legalization of marijuana is expected to be on the ballot this fall, and a move to gradually increase New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15-per-hour

Murphy is set to deliver his annual budget address to a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on Tuesday.  He will largely be out of public view for a few weeks after that as he undergoes surgery to remove a tumor from his left kidney that could be cancerous.

“Reinstating the millionaires tax is smart public policy that will improve New Jersey’s finances and make the economy stronger for everyone,” said New Jersey Policy Perspective president Brandon McKoy in a statement. “New Jersey’s public pension system is underfunded not because the benefits are too generous, but because the state habitually skipped annual payments so it could protect tax breaks given to ultra-wealthy families and large corporations. Undoing those short-sighted decisions and improving our ability to responsibly afford our obligations is a welcomed change, and we thank Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney for their leadership on this front.”

In a Sunday morning tweet, New Jersey CWA state director Hetty Rosenstein said events over the last two weeks makes her think she’s living in a sort of alternate universe.

“It’s 2020. A Jewish Democratic Socialist is going to be the next President. Steve Sweeney apologized to Fran Ehret, now supports the millionaires tax again, and he wants to better fund the pension plan,” Rosenstein wrote.  “Somebody pinch me and wake me up.”

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