Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) declined to rule out the prospect of a government shutdown Thursday, though he said he believed the prospect was unlikely.
“Who knows,” he said when asked if there would be a shutdown this year. “There shouldn’t be.”
The prospect of budget drama is low this year. Gov. Phil Murphy and every seat in the legislature are up for election, and a shutdown would only serve to hurt Democrats, who control both chambers of the legislature and the governorship.
Sweeney said budget talks will start in earnest next week, though it’s not clear whether they’ll be the focus on Monday or on primary day.
Either way, the Senate president is aiming to complete this year’s budget by June 21. Negotiations in past years have stretched to the end of June, threatening to shutdown the state government, though Murphy and legislative leaders have inked deals ahead of that deadline every year so far.
Last year’s budgets — both the three-month supplemental budget and the nine-month one that followed it — were passed without much ado. Sweeney’s hoping that’s the case again this year.
“I know it ends the drama for you guys because it’s not midnight and all that stuff,” he said. “But we like doing it early.”