Republicans may not have much of a say in the budget process — but the minority party is doing its best to make its voice heard.
Minutes after Gov. Phil Murphy made his case for his budget, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-Bridgewater) pushed back.
Bramnick said he’s worried Murphy will shut down the state — and do it for the wrong reasons.
“They are not shutting down government because the Democrats want to lower taxes and cut spending, they are shutting down because this governor is not communicating with the Democratic or Republican leadership,” Bramnick said. “He’s not negotiating with the Democratic leadership, he’s not talking to the Republican leadership.
“This is not a dictatorship. With all due respect to the governor, his inexperience is showing in this budget fight.”
Bramnick said more talk needs to be on cutting expenses, as opposed to raising taxes.
“Where is the discussion on pensions and benefits, where is the discussion on lowering expenses?” he said.
Both assemblymen pointed to a study that has already identified what areas of the government need attention, the Byrne-Healey report from 2015, which suggested solutions for the pension and health benefit issues.
And, while Murphy pointed fingers at former Gov. Chris Christie’s practices, Bramnick and DiMaio said that line is tired, and correlated Murphy’s strategy to that of former Gov. Jon Corzine.
DiMaio said more talk should be of what is working now — and how tax increases could hurt that.
“We’re improving modestly, and letting people breathe a little and letting businesses breathe a little and recover,” he said. “To start taxing businesses at a higher amount is just going to stifle job growth.
“We’re just so overtaxed and overburdened in the state that we are not recovering.”
DiMaio, stealing a line from the governor, talked about helping the innovation economy.
“Any innovative business that starts, the first thing we look to do is tax them,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like a lot to tax Lyft and Airbnb, but these are businesses that are developing that some people can be their own entrepreneur by just joining that system, and now we want to tax that as well.
“There are so many things that stifle business growth rather than encourage it in the state of New Jersey.”
Starting with what Bramnick said Murphy calls “sound and stable” fiscal policy: the millionaire’s tax.
“What’s sound and stable is lowering your expenses and making sure people can afford to live here,” Bramnick said.