In State of the State speech, Murphy renews call for millionaire’s tax in N.J.

In the annual speech before the Legislature, the first-term Democrat again pitched it as a way to raise revenue, fund his progressive political agenda.

N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his second State of the State address in Trenton on January 14, 2020. (Edwin J. Torres/ Governor's Office)

N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his second State of the State address in Trenton on January 14, 2020. (Edwin J. Torres/ Governor's Office)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has again called on the state Legislature to support a proposed income tax hike on millionaires, an idea he failed to realize last year.

Speaking during the annual State of the State address Tuesday, the Democratic governor said there was broad support for the idea as a way to raise revenue and fund his progressive political agenda.

“Overwhelming majorities of residents of all political stripes support this,” Murphy said. “We should too.”

Murphy encountered widespread political opposition to the notion last year, and that does not appear to have changed.

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Just this week, Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, reiterated his opposition to the proposal and urged Murphy to fix the state’s financial problems before considering a tax increase.

That sentiment was echoed Tuesday afternoon by Republicans, who blasted the speech and suggested that Murphy was refusing to confront the state’s fiscal issues.

“This governor has got to understand [that] we can’t keep growing government,” said Assemblyman John DiMaio, R-Somerset. “We need to stop adding new programs, stop growing government, catch up on the bill we owe, and go forward.”

Murphy will likely try again to sell the idea to the public over the next few months as he prepares for his next state budget proposal.

During his speech, the first-term governor also announced he would try to toughen the state’s ethics guidelines, including strengthening financial disclosures for state officials and tightening pay-to-play rules, for both the executive and legislative branches.

“I was also elected to move the needle here in Trenton, to change a culture that many New Jerseyans feel is out of step with their lives and behind the times in which we live,” he said.

Murphy also criticized a culture of misogyny in Trenton, just a few weeks after the Star-Ledger in Newark published a story including 20 women in politics who said they were harassed or assaulted by lawmakers or other staffers.

Calls to end the negative culture facing women in Trenton drew cheers from the crowd, but it also drew criticism from lawmakers who said Murphy should release former campaign and transition staffers from non-disclosure agreements in light of several media reports of misconduct.

Murphy has maintained that the agreements are standard practice in politics and do not stop people from discussing bad behavior.

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