A Few Key Insider NJ 2020 Budget Reads

Democratic leadership from the NJ Assembly give a press conference after the chamber votes to approve the NJ 2020 budget.

With the Legislature passing S2020/A5600 (the budget bills), and time ticking down for Governor Murphy to take action by the June 30th deadline, take a look at these Insider NJ budget-related pieces, in case you missed them:

Politics, After All, is How You get Things Done, by Fred Snowflack

Just 12 months ago – almost to the day – Phil Murphy journeyed to an elementary school in Trenton to talk about his battle with fellow Democrats over the 2018-19 budget. He talked about how his budget would aid children. A similar battle is now ensuing over the 2019-20 budget and the governor is following the same pattern. But this time the focus is not children, but those battling addiction.

New Jersey: The Priority of a Public Brawl for Power, by Insider NJ columnist Carl Golden

With the bitter conflict between Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) showing no signs of letting up, the presidential quip may be the only solution to the unprecedented internal strife which has gripped the Democratic Party, shattered unity and impacted virtually every issue of significance to come before the Legislature. Rather than a cooling of tempers with the passage of time, the confrontation has intensified and the divisions grown deeper, with both sides so locked into position that a truce appears out of the question.

Standoff at the Statehouse, by Max Pizarro

Days after the New Jersey Legislature repudiated a key feature of Governor Phil Murphy’s budget priorities, Trenton waited for the next development in a tense and political divisive atmosphere. Recent developments in the presidential contest pointed to a chance this week for New Jersey Senator Cory Booker to find an opening in the debates, but the state capitol hummed with the greater likelihood of the governor’s continued collision with the legislature. It was contentious. Or rather, the mood approximated no end to the standoff.

Murphy’s Tough Day in Trenton, by Max Pizarro

A legislature controlled by his own party ran over Governor Phil Murphy in the most devastating repudiation to date of his tenure as the state’s chief executive.

‘Democratic’ Election Year Budget Passes in Assembly, by Max Pizarro

They’re supposed to be the feistier group, that chamber of human political activity closer to the people, whose less than lordly status makes them more susceptible to popular currents of mood and thought. But after the senate passed the $38,748,6100 budget and the tax incentives extension, the assembly went ahead and did the same, with little fanfare. The only difference here was Republicans putting up a united front in opposition to the budget.

2020 Budget Bill: Senate Republicans Liked it – Sort of, by Fred Snowflack

Paul Sarlo said there were “slight differences” between the budget the Senate passed Thursday afternoon and the one proposed by Gov. Murphy. Sarlo, a Bergen County Democrat, must be an optimist.

Murphy v. Norcross: One New Jersey Budget Cycle, Two Movies, by Max Pizarro

The statehouse is really just a big riverside warehouse. Or a big diner, where bad things happen. Either way, right now represents an extraordinary moment in the political history of New Jersey, a state that struggles with the two sides of its personality, like an ongoing, simultaneous screening of Goodfellas and On the Waterfront.

Murphy Stands at the Crossroads of a Battle on Two Fronts, by Fred Snowflack

Phil Murphy sees this as a defining moment.  He’s the guy standing between the “common folk” and the “crony capitalists” on one hand and and the very rich on the other. “I’m incredibly at peace with where I am,” the governor said at a Tuesday afternoon press event. Where Murphy is, politically speaking, is at the crossroads of a battle on two fronts.

Governing a Third of New Jersey in Anonymity, by Fred Snowflack

Chris Christie  told a hunters’ group back in April that he recently met a guy at Newark Airport who said he was doing a great job as governor. The guy didn’t seem to know Phil Murphy had been elected in 2017. Christie’s punch line was that Murphy is so ineffective and under-the-radar people don’t know who he is. My reaction upon hearing Christie’s story that night in Sussex County was that his airport buddy was an utter moron. How could he not know Murphy had been elected more than a year ago? Well, apparently, this moron has company. An FDU poll released Monday says that about a third of those surveyed don’t know the name of the current governor.

An Epic (and Handy!) InsiderNJ Guide to the Week Ahead (Including 2020 Budget Drama), by Max Pizarro

A chair that Woodrow Wilson supposedly sat in ended up in a dingy corner of the statehouse during renovations, where history blends into mythology. If he sat there, it wasn’t for long. He couldn’t sit, let alone stand, in the same state as the bosses whose backs he used as a springboard out of the swamp, to the presidency. Now, a politically dysfunctional state furnished a predictable pattern, as Governor Phil Murphy allies rallied on his behalf outside, while machine Democrats bucked him inside

Budget 2020 Battle: Murphy is in an Untenable Position, by Insider NJ columnist Carl Golden

With the legislative leadership standing firm in opposition to any tax increases and promising to override any veto, Murphy is faced with settling on the least damaging option rather than the most beneficial one. Signing the budget without significant changes will be viewed as a defeat for the governor, a clear signal that in the increasingly bitter confrontation between the Administration and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), Murphy blinked.

Best Budget Strategy for Murphy: Don’t Veto Entire Budget, Use the Line Item Veto, by Insider NJ columnist Alan Joel Steinberg

A Murphy veto of the entire legislatively passed budget with its resulting state government shutdown would be an act of political suicide.  Murphy has strongly implied that he WILL veto the entire budget if it does not include his requested millionaire’s tax.   

Murphy’s Key to Survival – Nobody’s Watching ‘The Trenton Show’, by Insider NJ columnist Alan Joel Steinberg

Murphy has the worst front office in modern New Jersey political history, a vast wasteland devoid of political and policy talent.  Personally, I think the appellations “Phony Phil” and “Hapless Phil” are most appropriate characterizations of the current New Jersey governor who comes to our state live and in living color from Goldman Sachs.  In terms of communication skills, he reminds me of the late Dallas Cowboys football coach Tom Landry, whom the late, great Howard Cosell labeled “a national cure for insomnia”. 

Trenton, I Hardly Miss You…, by Insider NJ columnist and former Senator Kevin O’Toole

The year was 2006 and the Democrat governor and legislature had shut down state government because they couldn’t agree on how to spend a tax increase. As members of the Assembly Budget Committee, we had to travel to Trenton every day and sit around on the off chance a deal was reached. We watched and listened as the Democrats tried to engage in shuttle diplomacy to end their self-created stalemate – with each side tipping off the Statehouse press corps that they were going in to the Governor’s office or leaving it.

On Election Day, Coughlin Caucus Members (Mostly) Dodge Drama, by Max Pizarro

The senate steer-wrestled cannabis down and out. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) has been openly antagonistic toward Governor Phil Murphy. If his caucus members were on the ballot with time to organize a resistance, maybe Murphy allies would have been able to summon something. But Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) was just coy enough not to put a Democratic Primary target on the backs of his caucus members, who even felt sufficiently comfortable on Election Day to acknowledge their aye votes on a budget that lacks the millionaire’s tax Murphy craves.

‘I’d Love to Change the World, but I Don’t Know What to Do’: Budget-Season Democrats Cannibalize Each Other, by Insider NJ columnist Carl Golden

Public policy decisions reached in the midst of controversy — such as the bitter political conflict now engulfing the Murphy Administration — often reflect rash and personal conclusions rather than sober and contemplative ones. The determination of the governor, his staff and outside advisers to air television advertisements urging the Legislature to approve his proposal to increase the state income tax on earnings exceeding $1 million is the latest example of agreeing on a course of action in defiance of common sense and prior experience.

Source: ‘There are No Heroes Here [in Trenton]’, by Max Pizarro

A Statehouse source sat in his chair with his body almost scrunched up so his entire frame seemed smaller, as if avoiding the potential for someone to grab one of his arms and yank him in one direction or the other. “It’s horrible,” he confessed, as if cursed.

Murphy Versus Norcross: Duel for the New Jersey Democratic Party, by Insider NJ columnist Carl Golden

Two hundred fifteen years ago this July on the heights of Weehawken, Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr faced off against former U. S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. It did not end well for Hamilton. Two centuries and change later, Gov. Phil Murphy is poised to march off 20 paces from South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross on the mud flats of the Cooper River in Camden — without dueling pistols, of course.

Terror in the Caucus: Sources Expect a New Level of Crazy this Budget Go-Round, by Max Pizarro

If politics is picking sides, as Guy Gregg once said, never has a time been more magnetic than now, with the Democratic Party divided between the brain trust otherwise known as the South Jersey Democratic Machine and its attendants around the state on one side, and a band of allies close to Governor Phil Murphy on the other.

Welcome to the Democrats’ Incipient Budget Repast: EDA Versus SDA (and the GOP), by Max Pizarro

The dysfunction in the Democratic Party should have Republicans laughing their asses off right now, but they are too busy trying to pick up what’s left of their ravaged club in the era of President Donald J. Trump, which leaves the Democrats to mud wrestle – both in public and behind the scenes – as the state nosedives. This is what Democratic Party leadership in New Jersey looks like: Goldman Sachs alumnus Governor Phil Murphy fighting his own Chris Christie-affiliated party establishment, as part of a brutal continuing divide between public and private sector labor.

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