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The Latest: NJ lawmakers praise budget but balk at tax hike

March 5, 2019
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy arrives to a joint meeting of the Democratic-led Assembly and Senate in Trenton, N.J., Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Murphy unveiled his second budget Tuesday, calling for about $1 billion in increased spending that would be financed by higher income tax rates on wealthy residents and savings in public worker benefits. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy arrives to a joint meeting of the Democratic-led Assembly and Senate in Trenton, N.J., Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Murphy unveiled his second budget Tuesday, calling for about $1 billion in increased spending that would be financed by higher income tax rates on wealthy residents and savings in public worker benefits. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Latest on New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget proposal (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

New Jersey Democratic lawmakers are praising Gov. Phil Murphy’s second budget as a “positive first step forward,” but say they remain opposed to higher taxes.

Murphy’s $38.6 billion fiscal year 2020 budget proposal called for raising income tax rates on people making more than $1 million a year.

Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney says he wants to see additional savings squeezed out of the budget. Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said he opposes “broad-based” tax increases and wants to find savings.

Murphy says he’s identified about $1.1 billion in savings, including from public worker health benefits accounts.

Republican lawmakers, who are in the minority, criticized the proposal. Republican state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon says the state “can’t tax its way out” of its fiscal constraints. New Jersey faces ballooning public pension and health benefits payments that put pressure on Murphy and lawmakers to make cuts or raise taxes.

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2:25 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s second budget proposes a roughly $1 billion increase over the current year’s spending and finances it with higher income tax rates on wealthy residents and savings in public worker benefits.

The Democrat presented the spending plan for fiscal year 2020 to a joint meeting of the Democratic-led Assembly and Senate on Tuesday.

The $38.6 billion budget would replace the current year’s $37.4 billion budget expiring July 1.

Among the changes Murphy proposes are boosting income tax rates to the top bracket of 10.75 percent from 8.97 percent on people making more than $1 million.

He’s also calling for a boost to New Jersey Transit, K-12 school aid and a higher public pension payment.

Murphy also says his budget has a 16 percent decrease in public worker health benefits.

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12:15 a.m.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is set to unveil his second budget in a joint session before lawmakers.

The first-term Democrat is scheduled to deliver his budget speech Tuesday before the Democratic-led Assembly and Senate.

The current year’s $37.4 billion budget runs until June 30 when Murphy and lawmakers must enact a new, balanced spending plan.

Murphy’s first budget resulted in more funds for education, New Jersey Transit and the public worker pension. It financed those increases through higher income tax rates on people making more than $5 million a year.

It also hiked rates on businesses earning more than $1 million annually.

Murphy has called for further spending increases, but legislative leaders have said they won’t support higher taxes.

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