$7.4 billion in tax subsidies awarded to hand picked businesses and nonprofits by Governor Chris Christie’s administration since 2010. That is $7,400,000,000 that could of went to the revenue starved schools, hospitals, pensions, and other services that the citizens of the Garden State desperately require. That is $7,400,000,000 that could of been used to prevent an 11th downgrade to New Jersey’s credit rating under the Christie administration (The most downgrades by any governor in U.S. history).
The problem here is the $7.4 billion in tax breaks have done nothing to stimulate New Jersey’s economy. “We’ve seen very little impact from these corporate subsidies thus far,” said Jon Whiten, deputy director of New Jersey Policy Perspective, which tracks Economic Development Administration grants and tax credits. “By whatever metric you want to use, the state’s economic recovery has been lackluster and it’s near the bottom of all the states.”. $4.8 billion out of the $7.4 billion has been authorized since the Economic Opportunity Act was put in place in December 2013. Erica Jedynak, NJ director of the conservative Americans for Prosperity, said that “despite these immense costs and large number of recipients, New Jersey has seen little return on the taxpayer’s investments.”
How did we get here? Well, New Jersey began its tax subsidy program in 1996, handing out $1.37 billion in grants and credits in the 14 years before Christie took office. In 2014 NJ passed the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, which was co-sponorsed and championed by current US Congressmen Donald Norcross (NJ1). The Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 largely expanded New Jersey’s tax break program, and put an emphasis on Camden. Why is Camden important? Well a very prominent, and powerful political figure from NJ has a lot at stake in Camden. His name is George Norcross, and he is brother of Congressman Donald Norcross.
George Norcross pretty much runs South Jersey. He serves as Executive Chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, is Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Cooper Health System, and sits on the board of Holtec International. He was named the second most powerful person in New Jersey after Governor Chris Christie by NJBiz.com. He is a long time political leader in South Jersey, and close ally with Chris Christie. Former NJ Governor Richard Codey once said “Chris Christie is responsible for making George Norcross the governor of New Jersey,”. George Norcross is also a close friend and ally with President Trump, who he once helped to get a sweetheart tax deal through the legislature.
Both conservative and liberal political action groups have been against these tax subsides, both calling them “corporate welfare”, and saying “Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.”. Since the citizens of New Jersey have lost out on $7.4 billion in tax revenue, who are the winners? Well if you guessed they guy who has a brother as a congressman, is a close ally to the governor, and is a close friend to the President of the United States, you guessed right. George Norcross has been a proponent of more than $1.5 billion in tax breaks directed by the Christie administration to the city.
This is nothing new for the man that Phillymag.com dubbed “The Man Who Destroyed Democracy”, this has been going on for years in NJ. We have a never elected, unofficial governor running our state. He has tremendous sway over who gets on the ballot and which way legislators vote. He has connections from the Pennsauken School Board all the way up to the White House. Yet our politicians still kiss his ring, and refuse to stand up to him. As our pensions get gutted, our roads crumble, and our citizens struggle, King George flies over us all in his private helicopter to make the another deal, with another elected official. Our State Representatives, our congressmen and women, our governor, they are supposed to work for us, the ones who elected them to serve. Yet they all serve one man, Republicans, and Democrats alike.
Later this month Norcross will be throwing a high dollar fundraiser for Menendez, maybe another attempt to gather up some goodwill from another prominent NJ elected official, or maybe just trying to help a Democrat Senator who could be in danger of losing his seat.
One of the worst parts of the $1.5 billion worth of tax subsides George Norcross will be benefiting off in Camden, is that the NJ taxpayer could take a $250 million loss on their investment. The reasoning behind this is because businesses that receive these special tax breaks for setting up shop in Camden are allowed to submit estimates of net economic benefits over a 35 year period, but unfortunately the law only requires them to stay in Camden for 15 years. So say one of these businesses want to leave after 15 years, and move to Philadelphia, the NJ taxpayer would be missing out on the remaining 20 years’ worth of promised economic benefits.
Just another bad deal for NJ taxpayers, and another win The King of the Garden State. Hopefully the citizens of NJ will start demanding more out of their elected officials, and start to bring an end to the corporate welfare that has taken over their state. Why do you think NJ is among the top 10 worst states to be a homeowner and is the worst state for taxes? Maybe because we have an unelected political power broker running our state with the help of our Governor.
Good news is that Christie will be gone, and in November we will have an election for a new Governor. Bad News is that the top Republican and Democrat, Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy, both have ties to George Norcross. Maybe NJ will go outside the box this year and select an Independent or maybe a dark horse like Hirsh Singh. We can only wait and see who holds the true power in NJ, the people, or the King. Like President Trump once said referring to his friend George, “I wish I had that kind of power”.