Steve Sweeney

After Governor Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed a bill seeking a one billion dollar bond act to fund school improvements, New Jersey's legislature voted unanimously to go along with Murphy's advice to cut the proposed borrowing in half.

In his veto message, Murphy endorsed the goals of the legislation. But he raised concerns about the debt load from borrowing a billion dollars to improve school security, expand vocational-technical schools and community colleges, and help schools pay to replace water pipes.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says he's disappointed.

A bill signed into law by Governor Murphy expands the use of public-private partnerships to develop essential projects and grow the state’s economy.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says those partnerships helped colleges get private capital to build new facilities, and the bill he sponsored will give the state, county, and local governments more flexibility to advance critical infrastructure projects.

A panel of economists and tax experts put together by the leader of the New Jersey Senate is recommending a variety of governmental changes to make the state more affordable.

The task force is suggesting new state and local public employees be shifted from the current defined benefit pension plan to a 401k-type plan and that all government workers get a less-expensive health care plan.

New Jersey's Senate is set to vote tomorrow on a proposed constitutional amendment that would change a key part of the state's budget-making process.

The governor's power to certify state revenues would be turned over to a three-member panel.

Senate President Steve Sweeney needs three-fifths of the legislature to support the measure to get it on the November ballot.

New Jersey will be modifying its school funding formula for the first time in ten years.

Governor Phil Murphy has signed a law that adjusts state aid to public schools over seven years by reducing assistance to districts with declining student enrollment and providing more money to those with booming populations and large numbers of high-need students.

“We are making an historic reinvestment in our public schools and in our future. By fiscal year 2025 every district will receive the appropriate level of aid under the school funding formula.”

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says he’s hoping lawmakers will pass legislation by the end of the summer to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults.

Sweeney says he’s working with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin on bills they can advance that would expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program and make recreational pot use legal.

He says the medical bill will be tied to the recreational use measure and won’t move forward without it.

Phil Gregory / WBGO

Restructuring New Jersey’s school funding formula has been a longtime plan for Senate President Steve Sweeney.  His plan increases the total amount of state aid to schools, but also changes the amount of aid districts receive.  

“Trying to find a solution to end the unfairness going on in this state.  Actually, the injustice where you have two classes of kids; the haves and the have nots,” Sweeney said.

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says a panel of tax experts and lawmakers will make recommendations this summer to make some major changes in state government policies.

Sweeny says the group has been considering more than 50 ideas.

“One of the ideas was, and this was actually talked about under Governor Corzine, eliminate k- to-6 districts and k-to-8 districts and only have k-to-12 districts. Because that’s where the kids go to high school at the end of the day. And you would go from 600 school districts to I think 320.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Democratic legislative leaders battled over which taxes to raise before finally reaching a deal that resulted in enactment of a new state budget.

Political analysts say that could have an impact on their future relations.

Senate President Steve Sweeney is glad the budget battle is over.

“I’m hoping that we can now move forward on a path where we all realize that we can’t get anything done without each other and that we work together.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is reviewing a new proposal from Democratic legislative leaders hoping to end the impasse over enacting a new state budget.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says lawmakers are offering to extend a corporate business tax surcharge from two years to four, expand the sales tax to untaxed short-term rental properties, and increase the realty transfer tax on the sale of property worth more than a million dollars.

Despite Governor Phil Murphy’s vow to veto it, the New Jersey legislature has passed a state budget that includes a two-year corporate tax surcharge instead of the millionaires’ tax and sales tax increase Murphy wanted to provide a sustainable source of revenue.

Senate President Steve Sweeney it’s frustrating the budget process is at this point.

“I have never seen an administration with a lack of focus and a lack of honesty the way they’ve handled this.”

New Jersey legislative leaders are pressing ahead with their own state budget plan even after Governor Phil Murphy said he’d veto it.

Murphy says the budget Democratic leaders are advancing is based on gimmicks.

“I will not sign any budget based on numbers that I do not believe are sound and sustainable. And as we have reviewed the legislature’s proposals, I do not believe theirs are.”  

Senate President Steve Sweeney says lawmakers have been open to compromise and won’t be bullied into doing what the governor wants.

 

The leader of the New Jersey Senate says a new state budget will be approved by lawmakers before the June 30thdeadline.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says legislative leaders are prepared to pass their own version of a budget plan next week.

“Our plan is we’re hoping to do a budget on Tuesday and vote on Thursday. That’s our goal. No one wants to shut the state government now. I can tell you that right now.”

Legalized sports betting is coming to New Jersey.

The U-S Supreme Court has ruled in New Jersey's favor, striking down a 1992 federal law restricting sports wagering to Nevada and three other states.

Former state Senator Ray Lesniak has been fighting for years to legalize sports betting in New Jersey and he's thrilled with the court’s decision.

New Jersey lawmakers have some concerns about the $50 million Governor Murphy wants for a multi-year program to make community college tuition-free.

says that funding would help about 15,000 students who don’t have state and federal grants to cover the costs of attending community college.

A week before New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy proposes his first state budget, the leader of the state Senate has unveiled a plan to raise taxes to provide more money for education.

Senate President Steve Sweeney wants to impose a tax surcharge on corporations that make more than a million dollars in profits in New Jersey.

He says that would raise about $657 million and be just a portion of the money those companies will save from changes in the federal tax code.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy could face an uphill battle getting the legislature to approve a tax surcharge on income over a million dollars.

Senate President Steve Sweeney had been an advocate of a millionaires’ tax, but now says it’s the last thing he wants to consider.

He’s backed away from his previous support of the idea because of recent federal tax code changes that limit state and local property tax deductions.

New Jersey lawmakers are delaying action on a bill calling for subsidies to Public Service Enterprise Group to keep nuclear plants open in Salem County.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says additions to the bill are making it worse for consumers. He says it could increase costs for ratepayers by more than $4 billion over the next ten years.

The leader of the New Jersey Senate says a salary increase for New Jersey judges and cabinet officers is long overdue. 

A measure to give them raises will be considered by the Senate Budget Committee on Monday.

The $141,000 salary for the governor’s cabinet members, hasn’t gone up in 16 years. Senate President Steve Sweeney's bill would raise it to $175,000.

 

Governor Phil Murphy is ordering the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to fully implement a law enacted eight years ago to encourage the development of offshore wind projects.

Regulations to implement the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act and provide financial aid and tax credits to attract windmill developers stalled during the Christie administration.   

At the site of an onshore wind farm in Atlantic City, Governor Murphy signed an executive order to move ahead with the program.

NJEA
NJEA for WBGO News

Chris Christie repeatedly blasted the New Jersey Education Association during his eight years as governor. The leader of the state’s largest teachers’ union and the new governor are indicating their relationship will be much different.  

Christie was a constant critic of the NJEA, calling it a political thuggery operation that rules by fear and intimidation. He claimed the union’s leaders put their own interests ahead of their members.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy might not be getting speedy approval from the New jersey legislature for some of his priorities.
 
Murphy wants to impose a tax surcharge on millionaires and use the money to increase funding for public schools.
 
Senate President Steve Sweeney says state lawmakers won’t rush to do that.  He’s forming a panel of economists and tax experts to study the impact of federal tax changes that limit the deductions for state and local taxes and consider possible tax reforms.
 

New Jersey Governor Christie spent most of the time in his final state-of-the-state speech highlighting the accomplishments of his eight-years in office.

Christie credited the Democratically controlled legislature for helping him control public employee pension costs, reign in property tax increases, restructure higher education, and make needed improvements in Atlantic City and Camden.

The leader of the New Jersey Senate says lawmakers will hold a hearing to examine insurance products being offering by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says he wants to make sure insurance companies aren’t making enormous profits at the expense of quality health care for consumers.

“Horizon dominates the market right now. They have more than 50% of the market and they’re coming out with another product to deal with Medicare. And we want to know the impacts of these products for consumers and hospitals.”

After a five-hour hearing on the measure, legislation that could impose a surcharge on electric customers to keep three nuclear plants open in South Jersey has been advanced by a joint Senate and Assembly committee.

Public Service Enterprise Group says the nuclear plants could become unprofitable in two years and be shut down.

Ratepayer advocate Stefanie Brand worries the legislation could cost ratepayers over $300 million a year. She says there’s no evidence to demonstrate subsidies are needed.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy says legislation to phase-in a $15 minimum wage in New Jersey will be a high priority when he takes office in January.

Murphy joined legislative leaders and labor officials at a Statehouse event where some workers said it's tough to get by on less than $15 an hour.

Sayerville resident Anthony Banos says he works at a warehousing distribution center and has a part-time job at a retail store.

In one of his first major speeches since winning the election, Governor-elect Phil Murphy told the League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City that New Jersey is poised to be the comeback story of the nation.

Murphy did not propose any new initiatives. He reemphasized his commitment to improving New Jersey’s economy, funding education, and investing more in the state’s transportation infrastructure.

“New Jersey Transit barely functions. I’m embarrassed by the service that we provide our customers.

With Democrats about to take full control in January, Republicans in the New Jersey legislature know that a higher minimum wage is not far off.

The top Republican in the state senate now wants to make sure that Democrats don’t go too far.  

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean says the issue of affordability is the greatest challenge confronting New Jersey lawmakers and he’s calling for a bipartisan compromise.

Now that he’s won reelection, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says Democrats who control the legislature want to work with Governor-elect Phil Murphy to advance legislation they couldn’t get through during the Christie administration.  

Sweeney says Democrats’ plans include funding for women’s health care, expanding paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, and phasing in higher pension payments and more money for schools.

Five months before he was planning to retire, New Jersey State Senator Jim Whelan has died after suffering a heart attack at his Atlantic City home.

State officials are remembering him as a dedicated public servant.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg says Whelan was a role model for lawmakers.

“He seemed to be able to be part of the team, be part of the unified effort, and yet signal out the things that were important to him even if it was going against the tide a bit. He was an eminently decent man, full of integrity.”

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