Murphy says he’s reviewing budget but will meet deadline

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (Julio Cortez/AP Photo, File)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (Julio Cortez/AP Photo, File)

Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday that “all options are on the table” as he reviews the $38.7 billion budget lawmakers sent him, but that he’ll meet the state’s constitutional requirement to enact a balanced budget.

Whether the Democrat will sign the spending bill the Democrat-led Legislature sent him Thursday or use his line-item veto remained murky Friday.

The governor hinted this week that he would take out the red pen the state constitution grants him to cut out spending. He cannot, though, add anything to the budget.

He praised lawmakers for embracing most of the spending he sought in his own $38.6 billion proposal, but again chided them for failing to include his income tax hike on those making more than $1 million.

“Within the next nine days, I will meet my constitutional responsibility to enact a balanced budget for New Jersey,” he said at a news conference in his office building. Later at the same event, he reiterated his statement from earlier in the week that “all options are on the table.” That likely means using the line-item veto.

He told lawmakers in a letter this week that he would take “corrective” action if the budget they sent him didn’t have the revenue — from the tax on millionaires — that he sought.

The budget lawmakers sent Murphy has about $142 million in more spending, though the administration estimates the difference is even greater.

Aside from not including the income tax hike, lawmakers also abandoned Murphy’s other fee increases, including on gun permits, as well as a $150 surcharge for corporations with more than 50 workers who use state Medicaid services.

On the spending side, lawmakers boosted the state subsidy for New Jersey Transit, as well as for a host of other programs.

Murphy and his fellow Democrats, who control the Legislature, agreed on spending for schools and pensions, among other areas.

It’s the second straight year that Murphy is feuding with members of his own party over raising taxes on the wealthy, an issue he campaigned on and one polls have shown residents are mostly supportive of.

Last year, lawmakers and Murphy averted a state government shutdown by agreeing to raise taxes on people making more than $5 million, as well as on corporations.

The state constitution requires a balanced budget by June 30.

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