Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick all but guaranteed a government shutdown on Friday, when he announced that he would not help to move any budget Democratic lawmakers put forth on an emergency basis.
“We are going to have a technical shutdown if the governor or the legislative leaders in the Democratic party want to add new taxes or they want to put in a new budget,” Bramnick said. “They’re going to need an emergency, because any bill has to sit a day before you can post it for a vote. That’s a constitutional issue. We are not going to support new taxes or a new budget unless it has substantial cuts, and my guess is there’s not going to be substantial cuts.”
Even if Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Gov. Phil Murphy come to an agreement on the budget, the timing of such an agreement all but guarantees a government shutdown, at least in name, if Bramnick and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean do not help them move it through.
Though, all of that hinges on lawmakers reaching a deal, which they have yet to do, despite days of negotiations. Sweeney, Coughlin and other Democratic leaders met with Murphy for roughly two hours this morning, and a similar meeting between lawmakers yesterday a little more than two hours.
But, after today’s meeting, it did not appear as though a deal has been reached.
“We’re talking, that’s all I’m saying,” Sweeney told reporters as he left the meeting. “We’re talking, I’m not going to say anything else.”
Coughlin, only slightly more verbose, told reporters that he was hopeful. Legislative leaders will meet again with the governor early in the afternoon.
Still, while Bramnick’s promise will make it more difficult for lawmakers to avoid a Sunday shutdown, that prospect didn’t much concern Sweeney, who when informed of the minority leader’s stance simply said, “Ok, that’s ok.”
IT’s possible that lawmakers could avoid the constitutionally-required 48-hour waiting for a new bill by working the budget with a conditional veto, which could allow them to avoid a waiting period and immediately proceed to a concurrence vote Saturday.
But, even then, that might not provide them with an easy way out.
“I’m assuming they’re going to have to put up new tax bills, because the way Gov. Murphy ‘says I’m not signing a budget without new taxes,’” Bramnick said. “New taxes require a bill. A bill requires a day layover, so I’m happy to be an obstructionist if it has to do with new taxes in the state of New Jersey.”