With only 10 days left for Gov. Phil Murphy and his Democrats who control the New Jersey Legislature to hash out a state budget deal, state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said Wednesday it's time for the new governor to stop "campaigning" and start "governing."
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Murphy hasn't met with Coughlin or state Senate President Stephen Sweeney since Friday, when a pair of closed-door meetings ended after a "total breakdown" in talks between the three people who negotiate the state's budget.
Since then, Murphyhas held press conferences to call on legislative leaders to embrace his budget plan and back away from their own counterproposal that Murphy says relies on "gimmicks" and "one shots."
In response, Coughlin, who has kept his name out of headlines for weeks as Murphy and Sweeney publicly sparred, called on Murphy to negotiate "face to face."
"Campaigning is easy. Governing is hard," Coughlin said in a statement to NJ Advance Media.
"That's why it would be better for the governor to actually get in the room and meet face to face to be productive," the speaker added.
"I am prepared to meet, as I have been every day since this process began. In the meantime, I will continue to work with members of my caucus to ensure that we have continual communication in the Assembly on issues of such importance to our state."
The comment comes shortly after Murphy held a Trenton news conference about the budget. The governor rebuked claims from legislators that he's unwilling to compromise on the budget or negotiate with them.
"I'm available every second, of every hour of every day," Murphy said.
"The only price of admission for that conversation ... is that folks come to the table with sustainable, long-term revenue sources," he added. "That's the price of admission."
Murphy, introduced his first state budget proposal -- a $37.4 billion spending plan -- in March.
It relies on more than $1.5 billion in tax increases, including a millionaires tax and bump in the state's sales tax, to help pay for more funding for education, public worker pensions, transportation and more.
The Legislature, meanwhile, has balked at Murphy's plan in favor of higher taxes on the state's largest corporations.
The state Senate and Assembly advanced a budget Tuesday that would raise the corporation business tax by adding two new temporary tiers that would tax businesses with net income between $1 million and $25 million at a 11.5 percent tax rate and businesses with more than $25 million in net income at 13 percent -- the highest rate of any state.
The tax would end after two years. Murphy said his tax plan is a better long-term solution.
But Sweeney, the Senate president, said that gives lawmakers two years to "fix problems with spending."
"It's two years. It's not two weeks," Sweeney, D-Gloucester told NJ Advance Media.
Sweeney also said Murphy is "not offering to talk about anything else but his tax plan."
"We're still willing to continue to find a solution," Sweeney said. "There's no reason we can't. We want a solution."
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