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In a politically charged event, heavy on testimonies sticking it to Governor Phil Murphy on the millionaire’s tax while heaping praise on legislative leadership, the senate today affirmed $38,748,610,000 in state funds for the New Jersey State budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.
The vote was 31-6.
It had a no-drama or low-drama feel, the budget vote.
But the drama was unmistakably veiled, as the governor presumably prepares his veto pen as punishment for Democratic lawmakers who refused to support his calls for a millionaire’s tax.
Senators from both parties all but joined arms against the notion of an expanded tax championed by the Democratic governor.
There were murmurs, and at least one jab at a budget that lacked the expanded tax, but nothing that amounted to an insurrection as Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) strongly prevailed with bipartisan support.
Senator Dick Codey (D-27) expressed his support for the millionaire’s tax, but said he would support the budget.
It was a running theme, as it turned out.
“We need revenue for the poor, the middle class of this state,” Codey said.
Then he voted “aye”.
Senator Steve Oroho (R-24), for his part, praised the process but said he couldn’t support the budget.
Doesn’t address school funding, said the mountain man Republican.
State Senator Nia Gill (D-34) broke ranks.
She panned the budget, calling it a “trickle-down” document.
That prompted Sweeney to jump out of his chair.
The impassioned senate president spoke out in favor of the budget.
“How about we do something to lower property taxes?” he said. “We represent everyone in this state, not just a few. To tax just to tax, is irresponsible. I don’t want to be here when the pension system goes bankrupt.”
He had other voices – from both parties – on his side.
“I feel comfortable in the revenue projected in this budget… without the need for any broad based taxes,” said state Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36).
Republicans praised Sweeney – many supported the budget.
“I would like him for him to define for us what would be a fair share,” said state Senator Sam Thompson (R-12), jabbing at the governor.
He lauded Sweeney.
“You’re approaching it in the right direction, in the long run.”
Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) acknowledged a tough vote, but said he would back the budget.
“I appreciate the extra dollars we’re putting in for extraordinary aid,” he said.
Senator Bob Singer (R-30) recorded a yes vote.
The no votes in the end were:
Senator Mike Doherty (R-23)
Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40)
Senator Tony Bucco (R-25)
Absent from the chamber, state Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) did not vote, expressing his reasoning for taking that position here.