Fight Over Taxes, Spending Could Force Government Shutdown in New Jersey

June 11, 2018 AT 12:09 PM

It's a game of high-stakes poker, and in the view of Gov. Phil Murphy's administration, the other side won't show its hand.

As the slow-motion showdown over New Jersey's budget heads into its final act, the points of contention -- Murphy's proposed tax increases, how to equitably fund schools -- haven't changed much.

But with three weeks to go before the June 30 deadline for a state budget, neither Murphy nor Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, appear to be budging. If the impasse isn't resolved, non-essential functions of state government will shut down July 1, as happened last year when then-Gov. Chris Christie and the Legislature clashed over health insurance reform.

This year's dynamics are different: the confrontational Republican Christie has been replaced by the low-key Democrat Murphy, and the disputes center on education funding and taxes. But the threat of a shutdown looms anew, with Sweeney saying he'd rather close state offices and furlough thousands of workers than perpetuate what he calls an unfair school funding system.

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