Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday he will not sign the budget which the state Legislature passed in both houses last week.
“The buck stops with me in terms of putting my signature to this budget,” Murphy said.
Murphy appeared before reporters at an afternoon press conference, flanked by Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio and members from a variety of activist and interest groups.
The governor said he's "keeping all options on the table," but he declined to address speculation that a line item veto might be offing.
Under the Legislature’s budget, Murphy said, the state would land $855 million short of the administration’s target for a balanced budget by the end of the 2019 fiscal year.
“The Legislature's budget would end with a $104 million deficit and absolutely no dollars in surplus, zeroing out our proposed $751 million surplus,” Murphy said.
Legislative officials have forecast a surplus of roughly $788 million under the Legislature’s budget.
Lawmakers have until June 30 to ink a deal on the 2019 budget, or all non-essential services will be shut down until a deal is reached.
Democratic Assembly leaders held their own press conference shortly before the governor’s in which they argued that the Legislature’s budget had the grace of the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services.
The gathering included Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District; Assembly Budget Chair Eliana Pintor Marin, D-29th District; and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, D-6th District.
“The Democratic budget we passed is a reflection of our Democratic values,” Greenwald said.
Added Coughlin: “We believe in the numbers in our budget.”
Lawmakers have pushed for a corporate business tax as high as 13 percent for the top-earning companies, which Murphy has rejected.
In response, Murphy wants a millionaires’ tax and an increase in the sales tax to 7 percent, which the Legislature has rejected.