Gov. Murphy, Cabinet meet to weigh possible government shutdown

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TRENTON -

Gov. Phil Murphy convened a Cabinet meeting Thursday to review preparations for a possible government shutdown amid a budget standoff with lawmakers.

The first-year Democratic governor met with his Cabinet in Trenton and also weighed in on a legislative counteroffer made on Wednesday.

Speaking at a Trenton elementary school Thursday morning, Murphy said that he does not want to have a shutdown if one can be avoided.

“The kids here in Trenton do not deserve any delay in getting the funding their schools need,” he said.

Murphy and the Democratic-led Legislature are sparring over which taxes to raise to pay for the multibillion-dollar budget. The governor says he wants to see a millionaire’s tax created to pay for it. But legislators like Sweeney say that they oppose it and instead they offered a tax on Jersey Shore rental homes.

“This idea to me it just doesn’t make sense at almost any level,” Murphy said. “You’ve got the Jersey Shore on the one hand and you’ve got millionaires on the other hand.”

The governor also says that Sweeney's proposal to start levying the 6.625 percent sales tax on short-term rental properties would squeeze the middle class.

If a budget is not passed by Saturday at 11:59 p.m., the government may shut down. This would mean that all state offices, parks and beaches would be closed, possibly for the Fourth of July holiday – something that is worrying some business owners.

“It’s a big financial loss,” says Vincent Fierro, who runs a concession stand at Cheesequake State Park. “It’s the biggest weekend of the year and you’re not going to be able to make it up.”

State Assemblyman Jon Bramnick says that he wants to change state law to make sure transportation projects can continue if there is a shutdown. He says he would like to see state engineers and inspectors classified as “essential personnel.”

“The state now has to pay in some contracts this extra fee because they shut down and are paying by the day, and all of a sudden, everybody loses,” Bramnick says.

The assemblyman says despite being just days away from the state budget deadline, he will try to get his bill passed as emergency legislation.

But talks between Murphy and the Legislature continue. The governor says that he is waiting all options.

The Associated Press Wire Services contributed to this report.

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