Top lawmakers will unveil a state budget on Monday, vote on it in committee Tuesday and pass it out of the Legislature on Thursday, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Friday.
Lawmakers still have to flesh out the revenue streams for the 2019 fiscal year, but Sweeney, D-3rd District, said they have at least ironed out the issue of school funding.
“We’re not going to wait till June 30 to pass a budget. That’s when the mischief begins,” Sweeney said at a press conference in Trenton, where he was flanked by Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo, D-36th District, and Senator Teresa Ruiz, D-29th District, also a member of the Senate Budget committee.
If the budget gets out of the Legislature it still must be signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.His office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
A published report Friday on NJ.com quoted administration and legislative sources as saying a meeting earlier Friday between Murphy and key lawmakers ended in a “total breakdown,” and a government shutdown “is a distinct possibility.”
“What we don’t want is to shut down the government,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney’s plan calls for taking state aid from “overfunded” school districts and equalizing it over the state’s underfunded districts over the course of a seven-year phase out.
“We’re right there,” Sweeney said. “I think the administration will say we have 99 percent of an agreement on the school funding bill.”
But the Senate President is still sticking to his call for a corporate business tax at 12 percent and opposition to a so-called “millionaire tax” that Murphy supports.
With President Donald Trump’s massive tax cuts, New Jersey’s businesses would reportedly see a multibillion-dollar windfall, which he called “money that fell from the sky.”
The 12 percent corporate business tax would last two years and apply to the state’s 2,350 companies that annually earn at least $1 million.
As for the millionaire tax, it’s a no from Sweeney and the Legislature.
“As I said before, a tax increase should be last resort, not the first resort,” he added.
Lawmakers have until June 30 to sign a budget or the state government will shut down all nonessential services. Murphy’s 2019 budget calls for roughly $1.6 billion in revenue increases, a figure that may be hard to achieve.
But Sweeney said he was confident that with the corporate business tax, the state would still be able to draw in those funds.
“It’s not the same taxes that the governor is looking for, but it’s the same revenue,” he said.