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State Sen. Paul Sarlo. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Sarlo predicts no budget infighting this year

Process will still be painful, Senate budget chair says

By Nikita Biryukov, July 31 2020 10:58 am

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo is predicting a painful budget season but not because he expects top Democrats to butt heads over the matter.

“We’re going to get it done. I don’t think there’s going to be friction,” Sarlo said. “I’m sure there’ll be agreements and disagreements on how we get there, how we balance the budget like we always have, but now is not the time to have a long, drawn-out — we have so many other issues that we have to deal with getting through this pandemic.”

Since Murphy took office, budget negotiations between him and top Democrats in the legislature have been marked by a degree of animus.

That dynamic has largely been absent this year. Top Democrats under the golden dome reached an agreement with Murphy on a three-month supplemental budget without bloodshed, and though the governor and Senate President Steve Sweeney briefly butted heads over a bill allowing the state to borrow up to $10 billion, that conflict was a bloodless one.

Despite the uncharacteristically congenial tone budget negotiations have taken this year, Sarlo is predicting the process will be painful for other reasons.

“The numbers do not look good,” he said. “It’s going to be much more difficult than the 2009 great recession. It’s going to be much more difficult than post Sandy. More difficult than post 9/11. I think, historically from what people have told me, it could be the worst the statehouse has ever seen.”

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