Will NJ Budget Battle Hurt Democrats Long-Term Relations?

Jul 2, 2018

Democratic legislative leaders and Governor Murphy at budget deal announcement.

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.”

Montclair State political science professor Brigid Harrison says the governor needs to improve his relationship with legislative leaders if he wants to get more of his progressive agenda enacted.

“Governor Murphy has kind of treated this legislature as antagonistic and that doesn’t bode well for accomplishing a lot of his policy priorities moving forward.”

Ben Dworkin, the director of the Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship at Rowan University, expects the bickering over the budget won’t jeopardize the ability of lawmakers and the governor to act together on other issues.

“I don’t think any of the tension that we saw in the budget negotiations is going to spill over to fights over other key areas that need to still be decided like the minimum wage, like legalizing marijuana.”

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray says the budget battle could make it difficult to get a bill enacted this summer to legalize recreational marijuana use.

“There are some urban Democrats who actually have sided with Murphy on a number of things who have problems with this idea, and that joined together with a leadership the legislature who is still nursing some wound from the name calling makes it a lot harder for Murphy to push that through.”

Seton Hall public affairs professor Matthew Hale has a different view.

“I think that the pressure to get more reoccurring revenues though taxing of marijuana is going to be even greater down the road. So I actually think that legalization of marijuana is more likely now than less likely.”

Analysts agree that it’s unlikely Murphy will be able to convince the legislature to approve more tax increases to advance his progressive agenda next year when all members of the Assembly will be up for re-election.