Calling it the fair thing to do, Gov. Phil Murphy reiterated his desire to increase the taxes on millionaires in the state — an effort he has been making to little success for two years.
“First of all, it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “Just because we haven’t gotten it done isn’t a reason to give up doing something that we believe in. Over time, you find water and other realities, including political realities, find their normal resting place. And, when you’ve got 70-something percent of the state, including majority of Republicans, who think it’s a good idea, I’m optimistic we’ll get there.”
Murphy took questions from the media a day after his State of the State address and directly after introducing his Jobs NJ initiative at the East Brunswick campus of Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools.
Revenues from a more robust millionaire’s tax would greatly benefit the middle class, he said.
“This is the important point: What are you doing with the proceeds?” he said. “There’s really two reasons we want to do this. No. 1: We’re putting it … in property tax relief for the middle class. And (No. 2, we would be using it) to help us fund the increased investments that we want to make in public education.
“So, the use of proceeds are showstoppers. They’re unassailable. They go directly into the middle class of the state. We’re the quintessential middle-class state. As it goes, we go. And secondly, (it) prepares (us) for rougher seas if they come economically. This is a very reliable, steady, year-in year-out source of revenue that we’re going to need if we get the choppy waters.”
Murphy later reiterated that the tax is a matter of fairness, not a desire to simply tax and spend.
“I don’t wake up every morning reflexively trying to figure out ways to tax people,” he said. “In fact, on the contrary, I wake up every morning trying to figure out how we rein in the mess of property taxes that we inherited two years ago. We’ve made a lot of progress, but we have a long way to travel.
“But I do wake up asking myself what is fair, what is right. So, to ask the wealthiest among us — and, by the way, I don’t begrudge their wealth. I don’t begrudge their success. God bless them. We want more of them. But, I want this sort of to be a level fair playing field for the middle class.”
Murphy rattled off other areas where he feels residents are not being treated fairly.
“I don’t appreciate the fact that we are footing 100% of our opioid program. I don’t think that’s right. I think the opioid manufacturers and distributors ought to be helping us pay for that.
“If a company doesn’t provide (workers) health care, and we and the feds have to pick up the cost of Medicaid entirely on our back, I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think the fact that gun licenses and fees for them have not gone up since 1966 is fair.
“So, I’m not going to preview my budget address, but stuff that isn’t right is stuff that we’re going to continue to stay focused on.”