Murphy tells dinner crowd he supports innovation, startups … and millionaires tax

By Tom Bergeron
Washington, D.C. | Mar 2, 2018 at 7:34 am

Restoring New Jersey as a good value proposition … investing in small business … investing in innovation and STEM … and yes, an affirmation of his commitment to a millionaires tax.

Gov. Phil Murphy laid out his vision for the New Jersey economy during the keynote address of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s Walk to Washington Congressional Dinner on Thursday night.

Much of the governor’s speech reflected talking points from the campaign and his first six weeks of office. But there were a few nuggets of how he plans to achieve his goals of a “better and fairer economy.”

A look at some of his key lines:

Overview of the New Jersey economy

“Let there be no doubt that New Jersey has a laundry list of challenges, most of which have been festering for decades.

“I take on these challenges not as someone who has spent a lifetime in politics, but someone who spent a previous life learning how economies grow and create jobs, helping businesses be more responsive to markets, clients and employees. And working in advanced manufacturing economies overseas.

“I have seen what works and what does not work. Right now, in New Jersey, too much does not work.”

Our tremendous advantages will be lost, he said, “Unless we invest in our state, backed by a new vision for growth, a vision rooted in innovation, backed by small- and medium-sized businesses and communities connected by modern infrastructure.”

Restoring New Jersey as a ‘good-value’ state

“So much of what we are doing and what we will do, will be done through the lens of restoring New Jersey as a good value-for-money state that it was when many of you started your businesses or when many of us came here, as my wife, Tammy, and I did, neither of us from New Jersey, but to plant our flag to raise our four kids.

“And as I’ve heard from many in this room in prior meetings, you knew New Jersey wasn’t the cheapest place to do business or to live when you planted your roots, but you knew that it was a state that provided a rich basket of advantages in exchange. In recent years, the premium to live and do business in New Jersey has gone up and up, and the basket of what we got back has shrunk.

“Our failure to invest in our advantages has eroded relative worth. This is the balance that we must restore — the good-value-for-money equation must be brought back into balance.”

Pushing STEM

“New Jersey literally invented the modern world. We must reclaim our heritage. We were Silicon Valley before there was Silicon Valley.

“We do not know her name, but somewhere in New Jersey right now is the next ‘Wizard of Menlo Park.’

“We must make sure she stays here, and she succeeds here. And that means building a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for every single family.”

Policies matter

“Government policy matters, or lack thereof, matters.

“New Jersey has 15 startup incubators.

“New York has 179.

“That’s because they’ve embraced incubators in their policies, and we’ve ignored them.”

Pushing high-tech companies and startups through the EDA

“We can’t be content to just be the place where companies like Amazon want to come. We must also be the place where the next Amazon is born.

“That will require a multifaceted approach to business incentives (and) in state investment, evaluating each new opportunity and creating a package that works for that business or startup but also for us.

“With new leadership from Executive Director Tim Sullivan and (the) new board chair, Larry Downes, EDA will be the partner small businesses and startups need, with the right focus in making the right investments for our future growth.”

Tax fairness

“To make all this happen, we need to ensure tax fairness. Not class warfare, but equity. It comes down to asking the following: Do we continue to hollow out the very core of our state, or our society, or do we ask the wealthiest and biggest of our corporations to pay their fair share?

“And then to invest those currencies in things that we know will grow our economy: education, infrastructure, tax relief for our middle class and seniors.

“We tried the first option for eight years. It left us with a lagging economy, crumbling infrastructure, underfunded schools and rising property taxes.

“We have to acknowledge the fact that a New Jerseyan earning $2 million a year just got a $60,000 tax break from the feds, before we factor in our own efforts to restore the SALT deduction for property taxes.”

Commitment to a millionaires tax

“There is no doubt that the new tax law will make things worse in many corners of our state.

“We still have a property tax crisis that we must crack. But real and lasting property tax relief must start with our beleaguered middle class, and we will use every tool to help them.

“I remain committed to a true millionaires tax and to closing corporate tax loopholes that, frankly, most states have closed years ago.”

Tip of the hat to Horizon BCBSNJ

“Many large corporations received windfalls, some into the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars that they are deliberating on ways to spend.

“I have to applaud, in particular, (CEO) Kevin (Conlin) and his team, who announced their plan yesterday to invest significantly more in some of New Jersey’s toughest public health challenges as a result of their new tax reality.”

Read all of ROI-NJ’s Walk to Washington coverage