Walk to Washington: Murphy uses Congressional Dinner speech to preview budget priorities

By Anjalee Khemlani
Washington, D.C. | Feb 28, 2019 at 8:00 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy teased his upcoming budget address Thursday in Washington, D.C., at the annual New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Congressional Dinner.

Amid talk that the governor is eyeing new taxes, including a possible revisit of a millionaire’s tax, Murphy said the budget includes significant savings.

“Perhaps more than any other in recent memory, it will put forward significant and sustainable savings—that’s good for our bottom line, and even better for our taxpayers,” he said.

“It will continue our work to lessen the weight on our property taxpayers and build on last year’s progress, which saw the lowest annual increase in the average statewide property tax on record.”

In his second address on a Walk to Washington, Murphy also said he would push for corporate tax incentive reforms, including several ideas he introduced in October when he unveiled his economic vision.

Murphy reiterated the findings of a recent state Comptroller’s Office report, which showed the state has promised $11 billion in tax incentives — of which only $700 million has been awarded — and used it as a reason to push his own incentives agenda.

“Let me say, yet again, that I recognize the critical role tax incentives can play in economic development and job creation,” he said.

“That is not — and has never been — the issue. Many businesses represented in this room have benefited, one way or another, from an incentive. There are many, many good actors here. My commitment to attracting more high-wage, high-growth jobs to New Jersey has not, and will not, change. What must change is the way in which we have approached this. In obligating ourselves to $11 billion in total incentives, we have lost the balance between the rewarding incentives and the ability to maintain investments in the things that will help ultimately help businesses that receive them.”

The state anticipates losing out on $1 billion in revenue it could have had if it didn’t have the current programs, according to the state Treasurer.

This, Murphy said, is why reform is needed.

“When we lose $1 billion in revenues due to tax breaks, as we are this upcoming fiscal year, we lose $1 billion to invest in education and workforce development, in community redevelopment, and NJ Transit and infrastructure,” Murphy said.

Transportation is a major point of concern for the administration, both with changes to NJ Transit and the funding of the Gateway Tunnel.

“Our funding is lined up,” Murphy said. “When it comes to the replacement of the Portal Bridge, we’re also shovel-ready. All we need is for the president to come in with the federal government as our partner.”

Murphy said he recently had a chance to speak with President Donald Trump about the funding for the Gateway Tunnel project.

Murphy also took the opportunity to recount his wins in Year One, including raising the minimum wage and expanding paid sick and family leave, among other provisions he counts as part of creating fairer economy.

He also touted the growth of businesses in the state, based on numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Through the third quarter of 2018, these business applications were up 4 percent in New Jersey versus 2017,” he said.

“By even greater comparison, these business applications were actually down nearly 3 percent across the previous five years. This tells me that the policies we’re seeking to implement are, in fact, already building the framework of a stronger and fairer economy. The investments we are making in education, in infrastructure, in workforce development, and in our communities — the investments that support business — are already starting to pay off.”

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Anjalee Khemlani | akhemlani@roi-nj.com | AnjKhem