After two years of opposition, New Jersey’s most powerful state lawmaker will consider working with Gov. Phil Murphy to hike taxes on millionaires in exchange for a hefty tradeoff: an extra $1 billion for the state’s strapped pension fund, NJ Advance Media has learned.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he’s softening his stance on Murphy’s millionaires tax, but only if it means addressing the chronic underfunding of the state’s public-worker pension system.

“We’re dying a slow death,” Sweeney, D-Gloucester, told NJ Advance Media. “We’ve got to get to full funding quicker.”

Sweeney’s comments, made just days before Murphy’s 2021 state budget address, open a new chapter in the tax stalemate between the Garden State’s two top Democrats, who have clashed frequently since Murphy took office in 2018.

Both have made turning around the pension system a priority but with markedly different approaches. Sweeney has called for sweeping reforms that would move away from a strictly defined-benefit plan, while Murphy has said the state must begin making the full payment recommended by actuaries.

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This article quotes selections from “Sweeney will back Murphy millionaires tax if public worker pension funding gets huge boost,” by Brent Johnson and Samantha Marcus in, 2/23/2020.