Sweeney ‘bewildered’ by Murphy’s budget negotiation tactics

BY Briana Vannozzi, Senior Correspondent |

Other than Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement of no shutdown, most of Thursday was settled before it even began. Lawmakers zipped through voting sessions in the days leading up to the budget.

Senate President Steve Sweeney was seemingly unmoved by the governor’s decision to sign because he says they gave the governor 95% of what he wanted, calling it “a good budget.”

The talk was more about what hasn’t been happening in the budget negotiations. Sweeney said he’d wait to see what the governor announces at his Sunday afternoon press conference before making any decisions about an override of line-item vetoes.

“I was kind of bewildered, or puzzled, why the governor didn’t want to sit and talk to us after we passed the budget. We gave him 10 days. There was room to negotiate certain things, there really was,” Sweeney said. “He chose not to sit down negotiate. He chose to do press conferences and got very far out of line, my opinion.”

Progressive groups and the governor did score a last-minute win with the late addition of the Affordable Care Act bill to create a state-based health exchange. Sweeney posted it for an emergency vote, including his amendment to include all Medicaid-eligible residents.

As of late Thursday, there was no word from Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, but we’re told the Assembly members are feeling “alienated and frustrated” by the governor’s extra push for a millionaire’s tax.

All Assembly members are up for reelection in the fall.