For a second time, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed a state budget without the “millionaire’s tax” he has been pitching since his 2017 election. Weary New Jerseyites can’t yet breathe a sigh of relief. But their Legislature—unlike in Illinois or Connecticut—seems to realize that it’s possible to run out of other people’s money.
Mr. Murphy said Sunday that the absence of his signature idea was “not reason enough to walk away from this budget” and “not a reason to shut down state government.” Still, he lamented that on “tax fairness” the Legislature had fallen short: “This is by and large, by the way, the same Legislature that voted five times for a millionaire’s tax. Five times.”
Those previous efforts ran headlong into Mr. Murphy’s predecessor, Chris Christie. Whatever his flaws, Mr. Christie knew how to spell “veto.” His departure from office last year gave Democrats unified control of Trenton for the first time since 2010. The only question was how far left New Jersey would turn, and how fast.
Mr. Murphy, however, has found an antagonist in Senate President Steve Sweeney, a union ironworker who talks like he has been mugged by fiscal reality. “Is the Governor not going to be satisfied,” Mr. Sweeney said Sunday, “until we have the highest tax burden in the nation? Right now we’re the fifth.”
Mr. Sweeney used to favor a millionaire’s tax, as the Governor points out. But Mr. Sweeney’s tune changed after Congress capped the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted on a federal return. He added Sunday that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “can’t wait to see us do a millionaire’s tax,” since “it’s going to be cheaper to be in New York than it is going to be in North Jersey.”
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