New Jersey Governor-Elect Renews Call for Higher Taxes on Wealthy

  • Democrat promises to make high earners pay their ‘fair share’
  • First major post-election speech before municipal leaders

New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy speaks at an election night rally on Nov. 7, 2017 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. 

Photographer: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy, in his first major speech since winning the race, pledged to raise levies on the highest earners while fighting President Donald Trump’s attempts to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

“Yes, we will ask the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share,” Murphy, a 60-year-old Democrat, said Thursday at a conference for municipal officials in Atlantic City. That, plus the legalization of recreational marijuana, would help contribute $1.3 billion to state spending, he has said. Republican Chris Christie, governor until January, vetoed a millionaire’s tax five times and opposed legal pot.

About an hour after Murphy’s speech, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives gave Trump a win, approving a tax overhaul with cuts to the corporate rate, lower burdens for most individual filers and an estimated $1.4 trillion added to the federal deficit over the next decade. New Jersey is among high-tax states that have the most to lose from the legislation, which would eliminate deductions for state and local income levies.

“We are going to fight the Trump property-tax hike,” Murphy said. “We give enough at the federal store already.”

The Senate is working on its own version, though some Republicans key to its passing haven’t pledged support.

Campaign Promises

Murphy, a retired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. senior director, defeated Christie’s second-in-command Nov. 7 to become New Jersey’s 56th governor. As he did on the campaign trail, Murphy gave few specifics on how he will accomplish what he called “our small to-do list,” which includes a multibillion-dollar Hudson River commuter rail tunnel to Manhattan, relief from the nation’s highest property taxes and more funding for schools. 

But he made clear that, come January, he will reverse almost eight years of budget cutting by Christie that helped lead to a record 11 downgrades by the three major credit-rating companies.

Murphy also pledged to make New Jersey, with the nation’s highest number of polluted Superfund sites, become a leader on the environment even as Trump relaxes regulations on water and air quality.

“Facts and science will matter again,” Murphy told the audience of about 350 people.

Ninety minutes before Murphy took the stage, Christie issued a news release declaring that his administration “made New Jersey better" with the highest pension payments by any governor, more charter schools, reduced public payrolls and lower unemployment.

“New Jersey is a lower-taxed, more fiscally responsible and more conservative state than it was eight years ago,” the Christie release stated.

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