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Senate President Steve Sweeney. Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe
Senate President Steve Sweeney. Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Sweeney moderates override threat

Coughlin also demurs

By Nikita Biryukov, June 20 2019 6:40 pm

Senate President Steve Sweeney is moderating his override threats a day after he asked the governor to quickly line-item veto the legislature’s budget so lawmakers could figure out if they wanted to override.

“We’re not even going to talk about that at this point,” Sweeney said when asked about the possibility of an override at a press conference Thursday. “We’re celebrating the fact that we gave a very strong budget to the administration. There’s really no reason to line-item anything.”

Legislators in both chambers voted to send their budget to Murphy’s desk on Thursday. The senate passed the bill in a 31-6 vote that included seven Republican legislators.

The bill cleared the Assembly in a 53-24 vote along party lines. The only Democrat that didn’t vote in favor of the budget in that chamber was Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, who was on maternity leave and did not attend Thursday’s voting session.

On Wednesday, Murphy sent a letter to lawmakers saying he would have to take “corrective action” if they passed the budget as-is.

Later that day, Sweeney sent a letter to the governor asking that he line-item veto the budget quickly so legislators had time to figure out if they wanted to override before the July 1 budget deadline.

He walked back those statements, saying he was only firing back.

“I reacted to a letter because I sat next to him and he never brought a thing up about it. Same with guns,” Sweeney said. “I was with him yesterday. I was with him. I wasn’t somewhere else … If he had asked, we would have talked about it, so look, we would hope there’s no line item vetoes because we really think we gave him a good budget.”

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has eschewed making veto threats of the kind that his Senate counterpart made, but he also demurred when asked about the possibility of a veto override.

The main disagreement in this year’s budget is over the lack of a millionaire’s tax. Murphy wants one. Legislative leaders don’t want any broad-based tax increases, including ones on high earners.

“Listen, we’re never going to always agree. We’re Democrats,” Sweeney said. “We’re not a bobblehead party. When we disagree, we disagree.”

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