NJ’s top Democrats’ clash escalates over race-infused issue

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A race-infused clash between Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney could hint at trouble between two key figures responsible for enacting New Jersey’s roughly $37 billion budget.

Murphy and Sweeney agree on a lot, but they also publicly disagree over the governor’s call to raise taxes on millionaires to fund programs and how to dole out education aid. Sweeney announced he was holding up the nominations of Murphy’s picks for education commissioner and higher education secretary, who are both black, over school funding. Murphy and Sweeney are white. Asked for his reaction to the delay, Murphy spoke about the diversity of his cabinet nominees and said both individuals were black PhDs who deserved to be confirmed. Sweeney says the problem is over school funding, not race.