Phil Murphy seemed like the reasonable one. Or to use the cliche – the adult in the room.
He wanted a millionaires’ tax and why not? Taxing the very rich to benefit the masses is a very Democratic thing to do.
He wanted to increase the sales tax to 7 percent and he was right about that as well. It’s a cynical observation, but it’s also true many people think the sales tax still is 7 percent. So, some would say, what’s the big deal about increasing it from the rather bizarre level of 6.625 percent?
He opposed increasing the corporate business tax. At first blush, that seemed a bit odd. Democrats generally like raising taxes on businesses.
But Murphy, a onetime businessman himself, feared raising the tax to what would be the highest in the nation. That’s hardly an idle concern.
Certainly, we need businesses to relocate to New Jersey to provide jobs for people. The governor’s inclination was correct.
Then we come to Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s idea to institute a tax on summer rentals. The governor quickly rejected this idea and rightly so. The last thing we need to do is to make it more costly for average people to vacation “down the shore.”
Murphy, in fact, reminded listeners a few days ago how much he looked forward to a summer trip to the beach when he was growing up in Massachusetts.
All of that was fine and good and Murphy seemed as if he was winning the game. Just about all the Democratic interest groups were backing his position.
Then on Friday afternoon came the news that Sweeney had softened his stance on the millionaires’ tax.
His idea was raising the threshold to $5 million and setting the rate at 9.95 percent.
The governor’s plan is to raise the rate from the current 8.97 to 10.75 percent and to have it kick in at $1 million.
There are differences here to be sure.
But this was real movement. Murphy disagreed, seemingly rejecting the offer out of hand. And he didn’t really explain why.
So here is where Murphy is looking a bit unreasonable. As long as Sweeney has raised the prospect of backing some sort of tax increase on high earners, the path is open to compromise. Time to work things out.
What is Murphy’s counter offer?
Today is the deadline. If there is no budget by tomorrow morning, the world will not end. but there will be ramifications.
How ridiculous would it look for New Jersey if sports betting operations get shut down, albeit temporarily, a short time after they commenced.
The public probably cared little about this week’s intricate budget discussions in Trenton. That’s just human nature.
But the public does care when politics fails. And an inability of politicians from the same party to pass a budget is a top-shelf failure.
And if that occurs, the masses will blame Phil Murphy. It’s time for the governor to prevent that from happening.