Concerns That NJ Budget Dispute Might Force Government Shutdown

May 15, 2018

New Jersey Statehouse

New Jersey legislative leaders and Governor Phil Murphy have until the end of June to reach agreement on a new state budget. A stalemate could risk a potential government shutdown.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Tom Coughlin are resisting the governor’s proposed tax increases and free community college.

Democrat Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones does not expect there will be a government shutdown.

“I think calmer heads will prevail and we will surely come to an agreement. Nobody needs a shutdown of government. We all look bad when that happens.”

Assembly Budget Committee chairwoman Eliana Pintor Marin says there’s still time for majority Democrats in the legislature to reach a budget deal with Murphy so there isn’t a shutdown.

“I don’t think we’re going to head that way. It’ll be bad precedent. We’re all within the same party. Not that it’s impossible, but I think that’s the last thing that anybody wants to do.”

Republican Senator Sam Thompson isn’t so sure a shutdown will be avoided.

“I think there’s a good possibility that will occur. There’s quite a few controversial proposals he has in there related to taxes and some other things that he wishes to do. I think they’re in trouble.”

Republican Senator Mike Doherty agrees.

“It looks like Governor Murphy is going to have to knuckle under to what Sweeney and Coughlin want to do. Otherwise there is very well going to be a shutdown. I don’t see President Sweeney posting a major tax increase vote in the Senate. I just don’t see it.”

Sweeney says lawmakers and the governor are far apart in budget negotiations, but he’s optimistic they’ll be able to reach an agreement to avert a shutdown.