POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

On guns and budgets, Murphy takes aim at Senate president

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

“I’m a reasonable guy,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “I’ve given these folks and continue to give these folks ample opportunity to find common ground. I’ll continue to do that, but at the end of the day, I was elected by them, not by these folks.”

Murphy said Wednesday that there are limits to his agreeable nature. Unsaid, but certainly implied, is that his fellow Democrats are testing those limits. If it’s not the budget, which we’ll get to in a minute, it’s gun control. And at a presser Wednesday in Westfield, where a man was arrested outside an elementary school last week with a loaded handgun and hollow point bullets, Murphy pushed the agenda, calling out Senate President Steve Sweeney for refusing to post all of Murphy’s gun safety bills.

“What is being left out are bills that would enact meaningful ammunition regulation and firearms ID modernization and training, and those are big omissions. Let me speak to the ammunition bill in particular,” Murphy said. “So the bill would require a photo ID to purchase ammunition, for retailers to keep an electronic record — you’d be shocked at how much the records today are still kept on paper — and to report any purchases of ammunition to the state police. That’s it.”

The governor also called on Sweeney to support an increase in gun license fees, which was stripped from the budget introduced by the Legislature on Monday. You’d think that a couple of guys who spent the morning together might’ve talked about some of these things. Nope, says Murphy, adding ” … there’s an inside the Trenton bubble reality where it’s been business as usual, kicking the can down the road for decades. There’s a disconnect between their actions and what the public in this state wants. 72% want a millionaire’s tax and I could go through all sorts of other areas where the gap is wide.”

But in a letter to lawmakers Wednesday, Murphy seemed to be taking his foot off the gas on his big tax initiative, although he added that he’ll be talking tax fairness up to June 30 and beyond. Sweeney, seemingly in the catbird’s seat with a budget in hand and the votes to pass it, tried to sound cooperative.

“We’re still open to talk, but we’re ready to present our budget on the floor in both houses tomorrow and we’re going to,” said the Senate president.

Well, that sounds friendly enough. And with just 11 days to go in the fiscal year.