NEWARK, NJ -- Mayor Ras Baraka today expressed support for Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget proposal over state lawmakers’ plan as a Saturday deadline -- and another possible government shutdown -- approaches.
"We believe that his budget and his ideas that he wants to push forward is what we need,” Baraka said at a city hall press conference. “We don't need gimmicks that will plug the holes but two years, three years from now will put us back in the same situation we're in.”
The Democrat-controlled state Legislature and Murphy have been at odds over sources of revenue in this year’s budget. Murphy said he would cut programs if lawmakers didn’t support some key features in his budget, including a millionaire’s tax and an increased sales tax.
"The budget currently on my desk which we got last week from the Legislature would make...important investments in Newark and its residents,” Murphy said. “But the lack -- as the mayor mentioned -- of sustainable revenues to ensure these promises means everything we collectively want to do for Newark would be put at risk."
Murphy said that funding for programs including subsidized housing, charity care for hospitals in the city and pre-K would be at risk without a "sustainable" revenue stream.
The governor also pushed the responsibility of potentially gutting programs on the Legislature, saying “It will be because they forced us to do that because they're siding with millionaires.”
Lawmakers passed their own $36.5 billion budget last week, which would raise taxes on large corporations for two years. Democratic leadership today also devised a plan to raise additional revenue with taxes on realty transfers and short-term rentals.
“We remain confident and committed to the revenue and savings projections assumed in our budget, but we are offering an option that will satisfy the Governor’s call for additional recurring revenues,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney in a statement. “We are committed to working with him to get this budget enacted and to move forward.”
State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) voted for the Legislature's budget, yet he also attended today’s press conference. His appearance with the governor comes on the heels of Murphy proposing a compromise with modest increases to taxes suggested on both sides.
"Corporations can't be taxed to the point where they're going to leave the state,” Caputo said, adding that, “This has to be resolved and the governor has taken a bold step and outlined his positions in terms of what's best for the State of New Jersey and has also outlined a compromise.”
The mayor, meanwhile, also called for both the Legislature and the governor to reach an agreement that would avoid cutting programs.
“At the end of the day, I think that both parties should be aware of what the outcome can be, what the possibilities are, and that should be the thing that they're concentrating on.”