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Murphy: I want to raise you (C.B.T.)

Murphy: I Want To Raise You (C.B.T.)
Presented by Amazon: Matt Friedman's must-read briefing on the Garden State's important news of the day
Feb 28, 2024 View in browser

By Matt Friedman

Presented by

Good Wednesday morning!

Gov. Phil Murphy is breaking his pledge not to raise any taxes in his second term as part of his $55.9 billion budget proposal. Politically, this proposal to reinstate the 2.5 percent Corporate Business Tax surcharge for companies that earn over $10 million, up from the $1 million in the previous surcharge that expired months ago, is the path of least resistance. It’s a much easier lift than, say, raising the sales tax. The governor is calling this the “Corporate Transit Fee.”

This makes me wonder whether the administration floated the idea of slightly increasing the sales tax to make it easier for the governor to reinstate the higher CBT rate. The business lobby is upset about this, of course.

Murphy proposes dedicating the money to NJ Transit, which faces a nearly $1 billion fiscal cliff, but Speaker Craig Coughlin issued a statement after the speech saying that “any discussion about increasing corporate taxes must be had with our state’s long-term fiscal health and a further commitment to reducing property taxes in mind,” referring to the StayNJ program. So there’s already some push and pull there.

As the budget develops through the legislative process, pay attention to whether goodies are assigned to towns and counties whose leadership strongly backed Tammy Murphy’s Senate campaign. Just the other day, I talked to one influential municipal chair who said that neither the governor nor any of his staff have even hinted that support for his wife’s Senate campaign is tied to any kind of aid. But this person understands that the governor doesn’t have to say that. This is New Jersey, after all, and it’s just implied by the nature of the situation.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Will everyone please remain standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, which will be led by Assemblyman Wililiam Sampson. … Assemblyman? Assemblyman? Where is he? He’s not here. OK … I’ll do it myself.” — Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (The Waterfront Commission in 2022 ousted Sampson from his job as a port crane operator for absenteeism.)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Alexandra Acosta, Brenda Kelly

WHERE’S MURPHY? — Media: “Ask Governor Murphy” on News 12 at 4 p.m.


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TAX BRACKENS — A look at the fight ahead and unanswered questions on Murphy's new NJ Transit tax, by POLITICO’s Ry Rivard: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy realized he would have to break one promise to keep another. The term-limited Democrat could fix the state’s public transit system or keep business taxes lower, but he could not do both. He chose to raise taxes. … For months, Murphy fought in public against raising corporate business taxes, which would return to being highest in the country for some companies. He even allowed a similar business tax on a broader set of companies to sunset at the end of last year. But the administration appears to see transit funding as one the last pieces of the puzzle — if not the last piece — Murphy came to Trenton to solve over two terms in office that were sidetracked by the pandemic. … Since the governor changed his mind in recent weeks, he’s called executives at the state’s largest companies to talk to them about the fee. Details of those conversations have not been made public, but in his budget address, he hinted that those calls had been productive. “Let me take this opportunity to thank, in advance, the big companies which will be stepping up,” he said in prepared remarks. … But another large business group, the state Chamber of Commerce, seemed taken by surprise. Its president and CEO, Tom Bracken, said he was "shocked" to learn of the new tax. "I hope this is a nightmare that isn't true," he said in a statement.

200 MASTROS OVER — “Murphy proposes record-high budget — $1.8B more than projected revenues,” by NJ Spotlight News’ John Reitmeyer: “Gov. Phil Murphy is proposing another big increase in overall state spending to support bigger allocations to public education, mass transit and several other key items, all while maintaining significant funding for property-tax relief and public-worker pensions. In all, Murphy’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would increase annual spending to a record-high nearly $56 billion, a nearly 3% hike over the $54.3 billion budget enacted last summer, roughly in line with the pace of annual inflation.”

SOFT PROMISES — “Murphy breaks a promise. That’s good news,” by The Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran: “It’s a broken promise, yes, but let’s be grateful. Because the new ‘corporate transit fee’ will raise $1 billion a year, enough to avoid a calamity at NJ Transit, where the revenue will land. Even with that help, bus and train fares are due to increase by 15 percent this summer, a gut punch for working families. Enough. … [N]o one has a better idea. NJ Transit was a mess when Murphy inherited it, and for six years, he’s watched it bleed without applying this kind of bandage. The agency has been digging into its capital reserves to cover operating costs, a path to perdition, like using home equity to cover the grocery bills. And this $1 billion a year should finally turn it around, fixing a broken pillar of the state’s economy.”

Murphy budget would reroute charity care funds to Medicaid

—“Gov. Murphy wants to give money to build affordable housing in NJ backyards and basements” 

—“GOP lawmakers express dismay with Gov. Murphy’s budget plan” 

—“N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2025 budget proposal outlines plan to fully fund school aid formula” 


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‘PARENTAL RIGHTS’ ADVOCATES COMPLAIN ABOUT BUTT SNIFFING — “Sit, stay! Dogs may be coming to N.J. classrooms under proposed law,” by NJ Advance Media’s Tina Kelley: “Though New Jersey schools have experimented with therapy dogs in student counseling sessions and classrooms for years, the state Legislature is considering a bill that would create a pilot program in elementary schools to assess whether the pups should, well, sit and stay. ‘We know coming out of COVID there have been a lot of mental health issues with our student population around the state, so this was one way I thought that would help settle the nerves of kids’ and help them academically, said Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, one of the bill’s sponsors. ‘Hopefully, we could extend it all across the state,” Bucco said. Under the proposed law, six school districts would apply to be part of a three-year pilot program to bring dogs into elementary schools.”

—“A push to highlight NJ law designed to protect hotel housekeepers” 


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PIED-A-TERROR — NJ Senate candidate Bashaw got NYC property tax break meant for full-time residents, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: Curtis Bashaw, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has for the last 10 years benefited from a property tax abatement on his Manhattan pied-à-terre that’s intended only for full-time residents. The former head of the condo building’s management firm said Bashaw is not to blame for receiving the tax deduction; it was an “oversight” by the company, which is responsible for applying for abatements and missed that it had been grandfathered in from the previous owner. The campaign of Bashaw, a wealthy hotelier and real estate developer who grew up in Cherry Hill and now lives in Cape May, is a “lifelong New Jersey resident,” according to his campaign bio. Records show he’s been registered to vote in New Jersey since 1984. … The [Christine] Serrano Glassner campaign in a statement called Bashaw a “tax cheat” whose property tax troubles “could be just the tip of the iceberg on his electoral vulnerabilities.” …. Bashaw, who for 25 years was a partner in a real estate development company with offices in Manhattan, in 2013 purchased the one-bedroom condo on West 12th Street for $1.85 million, records show. …. According to property tax records, the abatement saved him $2,300 last year. … Jeanette Hoffman, a spokesperson for Bashaw’s campaign, called it a “a paperwork discrepancy between the building management company and the City of New York.” “These half-baked personal attacks are why good, successful people in business don’t want to run for political office,” Hoffman said.

—Republican Senate candidate and former Statehouse reporter Alex Zdan, upon seeing this article, offered this comment, in part: “All my two opponents seem to be able to do is fight. I think our voters are tired of this. I am the only candidate in this race who has consistently articulated a positive vision for our state and nation.”

LAYING IT ON THE LINE — “Will Andy Kim's effort to upend the line succeed? Will it sting Tammy Murphy?” by The Record’s Charles Stile: “Kim’s suit, then, is a long-shot attempt to reshape the endorsement process in Middlesex, Essex and Hudson counties. But it also comes a week before Democratic committee members in Bergen — another pivotal county in the primary sweepstakes — are scheduled to formally vote to choose their endorsed candidate. Members there will cast their ballot in secret, but the Bergen chairman, Paul Juliano, who is the governor's $280,000-a-year executive director of the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority, has thrown his support behind Murphy. Most of the municipal chairs are expected to follow suit and round up their local members on behalf of Murphy, but Kim’s lawsuit may very well be an attempt to persuade many of the 1,100 committee members to ignore the Juliano endorsement.”

—“Federal judge sets conference on Kim’s organization line lawsuit for Thursday” 

HIGHER ED, LOWER POLITICS — “US senators’ inquiry about Rutgers law center raises free speech concerns,” by The Record’s Hannan Adely: “A group of Republican U.S. senators has launched an inquiry into a Rutgers Law School program they say promotes antisemitism and platforms "terrorist sympathizers,” but advocates say it's a politically motivated attack that threatens academic freedom. The lawmakers, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway and William Best, chair of the Board of Governors, seeking information about funding for the Rutgers Center for Security, Race and Rights. Referring to anti-terror law, they asked if the university knew about controversial events and speakers and whether it would continue to support the center. … They pointed to comments and social media posts that refer to Palestinian resistance as a response to years of Israeli occupation and violence, and that call Israel a settler colonial state — a concept that is widely discussed and debated in academia.”

—Opinion: The right whale is nearly extinct. N.J. lawmakers can help save it

—Hennelly: “Life of the party or fate of the nation: Murphy v. Kim defining democracy” 

The two year campaign that got Tammy Murphy to turn against one of her husband's projects

—“Van Drew could help pick next U.S. Attorney if Trump wins” 


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TOMS RIVEN — “Toms River CFO, engineering chief resign; mayor says predecessor is out to hurt him,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Jean Mikle: “Toms River's chief financial officer and head of engineering have both submitted their resignations, Mayor Daniel Rodrick has confirmed, leaving the township in a difficult position as municipal budget season looms. Wendy A. Birkhead, who became head of engineering when Rodrick fired Robert J. Chankalian on Jan. 1, submitted her resignation last week, while CFO Judith Tutela submitted hers on Monday. … The departures of Tutela and Birkhead mark the third and fourth department leaders to resign since Rodrick took over the mayor's office last month. … ‘I believe this is politically timed and motivated to hurt the administration prior to the convention,’ Rodrick said, referring to Thursday's Ocean County Republican convention. ‘I believe Mo Hill’s team will work to do anything to hang onto the county line.’”

— “Can Passaic's plan to create more affordable housing units work for other NJ towns?” 

—“Westfield teen victimized by AI-generated nude images hires Hulk Hogan's sex tape lawyer” 

—“Edison pumps brakes on plan to expand marijuana sales in town” 

—“U.S. Secretary of Education visits Union City early childhood education center” 

—“Bayonne police union will vote on status of sergeant charged with computer theft in ’22” 


On the ground in Albany. Get critical policy news and analysis inside New York State. Track how power brokers are driving change across legislation and budget and impacting lobbying efforts. Learn more.


YOU'LL GET IN BIGGER TROUBLE FOR HOMEGROWN WEED THAN HOMEGROWN EXTREMISM — “Homegrown extremists in N.J.? They could sow chaos as election nears, agency warns,” by NJ Advance Media’s Spencer Kent: “The man wore a black face covering, throwing smoke bombs from his SUV toward a New Jersey church. ‘White lives matter, too,’ Nicholas Mucci yelled at people attending an anti-racism concert in January 2023 before driving away, authorities allege. Then he returned an hour later. He parked and attempted to pepper spray the crowd gathered outside the Asbury Park church, according to officials. … The incident was among those cited in the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness’ latest threat assessment report, which warns that chaotic times could lie ahead as we approach a pivotal presidential election in November. The report offers a foreboding forecast for 2024, citing threats from a host of extremist groups of varying ideologies — white supremacists, homegrown violent extremists, abortion-related extremists, anarchists and anti-fascists, as well as racially motivated Black extremists.”

EAGLE SPREAD — “Bald eagle population continues to rise in NJ. Here's the latest,” by The New Jersey Herald’s Bruce A. Scruton: “The population of bald eagles and the number of active nests in New Jersey continue to rise, with 286 nests monitored by volunteers and employees of the state Division of Fish and Wildlife last year. Of those monitored, 255 had eggs, with the remaining 31 considered territorial — a lone eagle — or housekeeping pairs that did not produce eggs. Observers recorded 34 new pairs compared with the 2022 season. … The numbers of nests was up from the 2022 figure of 250, but the number of surviving eaglets was down slightly from 335 in 2022 to last year's 309 figure.”

RAISE YOUR HAND, GEORGE GILMORE  — ”Are you a collector? 'American Pickers' are coming to NJ, maybe you have their next pick,” by The Record’s Amanda Wallace: “Do you live in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Maryland? Do you or someone you know have a garage filled with old cars, a room of antiques, pin ball machines, signs, or really any interesting or historically significant collection? If so, it is your time to shine. The "American Pickers" will be coming to New Jersey and the surrounding area in April, and they are looking for interesting characters with interesting collections.”

—“Little Steven Van Zandt teaches at Asbury Park middle school, imparts rock wisdom” 


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Murphy: I want to raise you (C.B.T.)