Some things never change, like State Senate President Stephen Sweeney's annual presence in the rarified upper rungs of the Power 100 — nor the debate over whether his fortunes will rise or fall with a new administration.
In the case of Sweeney and his likely impact on the New Jersey business community in the months ahead, the answers appear to be: rock steady, but remain wary.
Take the 3rd District Democrat’s recent proposal to hike the corporate tax rate to 12 percent for businesses registered as C corporations and earning more than $1 million. Billed as a counterweight to the Trump administration’s successful push for federal tax reform benefiting large corporations and others, the Sweeney proposal in truth was simply a trial balloon ahead of broad discussions in the Legislature about how to cushion the impact of the federal reforms on individual New Jersey taxpayers.
Sweeney said he believes his proposal could yield about $657 million in new revenue, and that’s not nothing in a state that can’t even afford to pave its highways.
Similarly, the election of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy to succeed Republican Chris Christie is both a help and hindrance to Sweeney’s hold on power in the Senate.
Murphy’s policy priorities are sure to line up more consistently with Sweeney and the Democratic-controlled Senate. Yet the Gloucester County senator’s most ardent supporters live in South Jersey and the election of a governor from North Jersey ensures a push-pull tension between those polar constituencies.
Still, you can count on this: Sweeney will survive any confrontations and perhaps even prosper.