Murphy Unlocks the Nuclear Launch Codes

Skipping over the preliminaries — meetings, discussions, negotiations or compromises with legislative leaders — Gov. Phil Murphy went directly to the nuclear option— shutting down state government on July 1 if the Legislature sends him a fiscal 2024 budget that includes extending the corporate tax surcharge to finance a new broad property tax reduction program targeted at senior citizens.

Within 24 hours of Senate President Nick Scutari’s (D-Union) favorable comments in support of a proposal floated by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) to target property tax relief to senior citizens, the Murphy Administration — in a rare public outburst of intra-party disagreement — dared the leaders to move ahead against his wishes and risk bringing state government to a halt.

In a stern “don’t call my bluff” warning, the governor said he would veto any budget provisions to continue the five-year-old surcharge and if the Legislature failed to agree by the July 1 constitutional deadline for a new spending plan, government operations would come to a halt.

Driving home his seriousness, Murphy said he’s already ordered contingency plans drawn up for a government shutdown while continuing to provide essential services.

The 2.5 percent surcharge on businesses with over $1 million a year in taxable income will expire at the end of this year and Murphy has made it clear that he stands firm in his view that when it was enacted in 2018 a specific sunset provision was included and government is obligated to abide by it.

Its’ expiration is estimated to result in a loss of $332 million for the remainder of the current fiscal year and $1 billion by fiscal 2025.

While details of Coughlin’s plan are scarce, Murphy criticized it as unfair by singling out a segment of property owners — senior citizens — regardless of financial circumstances and without means testing.

Moreover, the governor has questioned the wisdom of enacting a major multi-billion dollar program at a time of economic uncertainty. Any downturn or revenue loss in the outyears will likely result in scaling back or eliminating the relief program.

Coughlin is expected to outline his proposal — named StayNJ — with greater specificity next week, but the governor’s swift and hardline response suggests he’ll not be satisfied with anything short of abandoning the idea entirely.

Neither Coughlin nor Scutari has shown any inclination to back down and it’s unclear whether they can marshal support of their colleagues in light of the governor’s threat of a veto and government shutdown.

Legislative deliberations of the governor’s proposed $53 billion budget are entering their final month and hard bargaining lies ahead over spending priorities. If he stands by it and forces a confrontation with the Administration, Coughlin’s tax relief proposal will make the bargaining even more difficult.

The political stakes are high as well. An eyeball to eyeball stare down between legislative Democrats and a Democratic governor in a year when all 120 seats are at issue would force incumbents and challengers to choose between a chief executive in the final two and one-half years of his term and their party leadership intent on maintaining and building upon their majorities and paving the way to hold the governor’s office in 2025.

Murphy has been under pressure, primarily from progressive groups and interests, to extend the surcharge — not necessarily to fund Coughlin’s recommendation but to allocate to a variety of other new or expanded programs.

At the same time, the state’s business community has urged Murphy to meet his commitment to allow the surcharge to expire, arguing that the additional tax burden will discourage growth and expansion and stunt job opportunities.

New Jersey’s corporate business tax is already the highest in the nation, they argue, and has placed it at a serious competitive disadvantage with neighboring states.

Murphy has very publicly drawn a deep line in the sand and compromise appears out of the question.

He recognizes that at nearly six years in, his term is approaching a close but his constitutional power and authority and whatever political capital he still holds remain. Lame duck status beckons him, but he’ll not go quietly into into that good territory.

He’s willing to exercise all at his disposal, even to the point of bringing government to a halt for only the third time in history.

If a resolution remains elusive, Murphy will certainly be compared to his predecessor who presided over a shutdown in 2017, leading to one of the most embarrassing and enduring political blunders in history — a photo of former Gov. Chris Christie lounging on the beach with his family and friends while other state administered beaches were closed to the public.

In the potential test of wills between Murphy and the Legislature, the governor would be wise to draw lines in the sand rather than risk being discovered wiggling his toes in it.

Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University.

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18 responses to “Murphy Unlocks the Nuclear Launch Codes”

  1. Governor KNUCKLEHEAD is giving the middle finger to all senior property owners in New Jersey. The Governor has now shown his real colors–a NAZI tyrant with too much power. There should be a Swastika flag flying over the State House and Drumthwacket instead of the New Jersey State flag.

    If he shuts down the government, or the Democrats cave to his tyrannical demands, every property owner in New Jersey MUST vote out ALL Democrats and elect a Republican Governor in 2025.

    It is absolutely absurd to give one person so much power in elected office. Why bother to have a Legislature or Court if this little-minded man has so much power.

    He emulates Adolf Hitler when he doesn’t get what he wants. He shuts down government, uses the State Police or SP (The Sicherheitspolizei, a term used in Nazi Germany for Security Police), to arrest people who don’t follow his Nazi diktats, removes or doesn’t allow press he doesn’t like into his press conferences, lies about the science regarding COVID when the science shows more and more dying and having severe medical problems from the COVID experimental shots, promotes anti-2nd Amendment programs and laws in violation of his own CONSTITUTIONAL OATH OF OFFICE TO UPHOLD, SUPPORT & DEFEND THE U.S. CONSTITUTION (WHICH INCLUDES THE 2ND AMENDMENT) and said violation constitutes OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT.

    Governor KNUCKLEHEAD is a blatant NAZI that needs to be removed from office by any legal means necessary at this juncture. WTF, the guy isn’t even from New Jersey (he’s a Massachusetts Carpetbagger). New Jerseyans need to send this clown out of town on a rail, and tell him “don’t let the door hit him in the ass on the way out”.

  2. The comparison between Gov. Murphy and Nazis is embarrassing. You all have leard nothing from history. I am not a Murphy fan,but on this one I got his back. Shame on you!

  3. What??? Did you read the article? Are you familiar with the issue? Gov. Murphy is against extending the corporate tax surcharge beyond its statutory sunset date at the end of 2023. If you extend the corporate tax surcharge you are raising taxes. Are you the only supposed Republican in America who wants to raise taxes?

  4. I Recall right before the last election for governor in New Jersey that there was a rumor going around that they were going to do away with the senior tax freeze. I even called the Trenton and whoever I spoke to just said yes when I asked that question. A few months later I believe it was July or August I really don’t recall my sister called me up and said did you get your check in the mail, and I said what check, she said the senior tax refund check. I reminded her that I called up Trenton and whoever I spoke to just answered yes when I asked if they were going to do away with the senior tax freeze. Well The governor was up for reelection and I guess somebody reminded him that if there’s any block of people that vote in this state it’s we senior citizens. Maybe that changed his mind I don’t know, all I know is we got our checks. Seeing that this is his last term he doesn’t have to worry about reelection. It’s no surprise that New Jersey has the highest property taxes in all 50 states. Most senior citizens worked the majority of their life’s , we don’t want to leave New Jersey we’re too old to relocate . for heaven sake’s how about managing the money a little bit better and stop taxing people to death.

  5. I understand your frustration but it should be income based, in my opinion. Today’s senior citizens vary from those who are very poor and barely able to afford food, let alone a $10,000 a year property tax, to those who are multi millionaires, even billionaires! The wealthiest people in the State of NJ are senior citizens, with the poor seniors being in the minority. When I say poor seniors, I’m not talking about those who are getting free housing, snap and Medicaid and pay for NOTHING out of pocket, because they never worked their entire lives. I’m talking about the REAL poor seniors who worked hard all their lives to finally pay off a small ranch house and who don’t qualify for anything because they have a pittance in the bank , over $2000.00. After paying their Medicare, and food and all other expenses, a $10,000. property tax is a huge hardship. These people absolutely should get assistance with their property taxes! Not the multi millionaire seniors. I believe all property tax relief she be income based, not only for senior citizens, but for families. Young people with children face such a huge struggle with the expenses, and they need a break too.

  6. In a state where the governor killed people in nursing homes why would he care about relief for people who don’t vote for him anyway and who are living on social security by the way they charge businesses to pay for it not property owners.But who in this state cares about seniors anyway.

  7. Invitation to seniors to MOVE OUT
    Go to Florida less tax ,warm all year
    That’s what his masters demand and he SHALL OBEY maybe I’ll climb higher are his thoughts!!! the TEAM
    DECIDES. THINK GOP !!! might be

  8. Way to go, Murphy! Continue to
    prove you’re a stinking, shameless skunk
    without compassion for a segment
    of NJ’s population that no longer have
    much or any ability to add anything to their
    fixed incomes. 2025 can’t come quick
    enough toward goodbye to a jagged -mouth
    asshole and his stinking cronies.

  9. He tried to get rid of all the seniors 3 years ago
    With the nursing homes and COVID
    Now he want to force them out of
    the state if they don’t have as much
    Money as he does.
    How can we recall or impeach this
    Elitist .

  10. First, it’s always good to argue without calling names. Second , there are a lot of older New Jersians who live hand to mouth because of the regressive property tax system in NJ. Maybe the answer is to fix that instead of tinkering around the edges.

  11. For the Nutt & the republican Knuckleheads that think your way is best ? Let’s how you get your Jan 6 Sentences Not away and you & your DOPE theory , Go too Trenton State or Leavenworth prison. For your hypocrisy. NJ is Blue & Will stay 💙 blue ,Not red

  12. Worst Governor ever!!! His pockets are full, so he could care less. He’s always been a phony and he should be investigated!! I’m sure he’s cheated on his taxes. He’s a corrupt politician!!

  13. In response to Jersey being a blue state…this last election put in many Republican, except for our governor. Sad when someone says of taxes are your issue leave NJ. Let’s not make that mistake again. I sure as hell didn’t vote for him. It’s time for a change and to stop screwing the seniors. Not everybody is a rich senior.

  14. Why is it that Democrats–the Real Fascists–can’t put sentences together, and then accuse others of equating Nazis with Murphy when his actions fit the bill? Murphy told us if our issue is taxes, NJ is not our state. Then he passed the largest tax increase and largest budget in the state’s history. Murphy told us the science said to keep everyone locked down during COVID. Yet, Murphy never followed the science, as we now know that lockdowns didn’t work. And, Murphy didn’t lockdown COVID infected patients that he put into senior & assisted living homes that murdered over 7,000 people. With murder being a 40 year sentence in NJ, Murphy should be getting 280,000 years in prison.

    Or, what about Murphy pushing and passing the most draconian, tyrannical anti-2nd Amendment laws of any state that basically banned guns in NJ. This was done without any real hearings, without any real study, and was done in a “railroad” fashion. I guess if you throw enough shite against the wall, the Democrats could get anti-2nd Amendment laws to stick. But taxpayers are going to pay for this since lawsuits abound on overturning these Nazi-style laws that were taken almost verbatim from the 1938 Nazi Weapons Law (and Weimar Republic Gun Control laws) . These laws were rammed through the Legislature based on “knee jerk” reactions from feel-good organizations like anti-gun nut oligarch Michael Bloomberg’s personally funded Moms Demand Action NJ. Murphy supported these violations of our Constitutional Rights and Human Rights to self-defense. [Remember, police are minutes away, when you have seconds to live]. This is the definition of a Nazi Tyrant.

    Or, about those who claim that those who want massive property tax reduction are raising taxes in other areas??? I guess Democrat-Communists can’t help themselves with their projection and gaslighting of the New Jersey public.

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