TRENTON, N.J. — Ahead of an assembly committee vote to approve a state budget Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) held a press conference to call for the democratic-led legislature to increase funding for New Jersey Transit to the tune of $242 million.
Without a deal, the government would shut down in 11 days. Meaning public beaches and parks would close just in time for the Fourth of July holiday.
"We cannot do this from year-to-year. We cannot enter every June in crisis, trying to figure out how we're going to keep the lights on, let alone invest in the big things New Jersey needs," said Murphy.
Governor Murphy wants a cash infusion for NJ TRANSIT to hire 114 more workers and make safety and convenience improvements. The ailing agency saw it's budget slashed under Governor Chris Christie. There have been chronic delays, accidents and failing equipment in recent years.
"I ask our legislature, I ask our democratic leadership in the state house, which side are you on?" said Raymond Greaves, Chairman of New Jersey Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents over 10,000 workers in New Jersey. "Are you on the side of commuters and workers, the middle class and the poor, who need tax fairness? Or do you stand on the side of millionaires and corporations that don’t give us a penny here at New Jersey Transit."
To pay for the transit investment, the governor wants to raise taxes on millionaires and to hike the sales tax back to 7 percent.
The democratic-led legislature would prefer to hike taxes on corporations. Under the assembly's budget proposal, corporations making more than $1 million would pay a 2.5 percent tax, while corporations making over $25 million would pay 4 percent. This tax would disappear in two years.
But Murphy said that this is not a sustainable way to fund a railroad, since it expires in a couple years.
While republicans see no reason to raise taxes at all.
“In a state where taxes are the highest in the nation, this Governor should be talking about reforms to lower taxes and reduce spending," said Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick.
All sides have vowed - they won’t let the government shut down like last year.
"It's the 19th, I remain optimistic we’re gonna figure this out," said Murphy.