Murphy: Corporate business tax increase a ‘two-shot’ deal

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

Gov. Phil Murphy told reporters he’s confident a budget will get done by June 30, but he wasn’t budging on any of the items up for negotiation, at least not publicly. “I like what we’ve put out there,” Murphy said.

His proposal includes a hike in the income tax for million dollar incomes and restoring the sales tax to 7 percent. Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, his fellow Democrats, have rejected that. Sweeney prefers a temporary hike in the corporate business tax that would last two years. For Murphy, that’s not a sustainable, long-term revenue source.

“Just going from a one-shot to a two-shot leaves me cold, so just sort of saying you’re doing something for two years doesn’t get you. That’s not real change, that’s extending a one-shot into a two-shot. Secondly, I want to make sure we’re still competitive. We’re already at the outer edge of competitiveness, so that’s something that I really want to think through,” Murphy said.

Murphy is afraid that companies won’t relocate here, or will move out, if the corporate business tax is hiked. He also shot down Coughlin’s tax amnesty program proposal that would bring in about $150 million.

“I will tell you something, I think you do a tax amnesty bottom of the ninth, two outs, two strikes, nobody on base, you’re down by 10 runs, you’ve run out of any other good idea because you’re sort of going to the well. I tell you, people are sick of that, the rating agencies, our citizens. It could be a significant number. But boy I’ll tell you, when you’ve got other sustainable, obvious revenue sources that you could deploy that people are overwhelming, by the way put aside legislators, people overwhelmingly are comfortable with the plan we’re talking about. This is not a radical plan that we’re trying to jam down people’s throats and the public at large. They say, you know what, this makes sense,” Murphy said.

Sweeney and Coughlin call Murphy’s taxes a last resort, and Murphy calls Coughlin’s tax amnesty a last resort. They have 17 days to get on the same page.