New Jersey Newsroom

Rallying Against Gov. Christie's Failed Corporate Subsidy Program

New Jersey Newsroom — Monday, April 15, 2013

BY ROB DUFFEY
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY

On Tax Day representatives of a coalition of labor and community groups staged a demonstration and flyered a downtown post office in New Brunswick to raise awareness about how the dramatic increase in corporate tax breaks seen under the Christie Administration has so far failed to create the jobs New Jersey needs.

Advocates brought a giant check for $2.1 billion made out to New Jersey corporations from the taxpayers of New Jersey and signed by Governor Christie. The flyers they handed out to taxpayers at the post office detailed some of the most eye-popping of Governor Christie's grants, including a $261 million tax cut for the developers of a bankrupt Revel Casino, $12.3 million for bailed-out bank Citigroup, and $210 million given to Prudential Insurance to move four blocks down the street.

It's important for New Jersey taxpayers to know that even as they do their part to support the essential services and investments we all rely on, Governor Christie has turned Tax Day into a holiday for some of the biggest and most profitable corporations in the world. It might be one thing if these tax cuts had created jobs, but New Jersey still ranks 7th in unemployment and 47th in economic growth.

The action comes on the heels of a report from think-tank New Jersey Policy Perspective that details how corporate tax credits to big businesses like Honeywell, Citigroup, Prudential and Panasonic have failed to bring New Jersey's unemployment rate in line with the region or the rest of the nation. A week after the report was released over 500 Newark high school students walked out of class and marched to an Assembly Budget Hearing demanding to know why Prudential was getting $210 million for a new office building in downtown Newark while their schools were being cut by $50 million.

"Governor Christie broke his promise to New Jersey's students when he promised to protect K-12 education funding and increase funding for public colleges and universities," said Bryan Miranda, a student at Rutgers New Brunswick and an organizer for New Jersey United Students. "The fact is that he cut education to pay for these tax breaks to big business. It was a bad bet that didn't pay off, and he used our futures as chips at the wheel."

Speakers noted that many of the recipients of these corporate subsidies had either received money with no explicit promise to hire New Jersey workers or even laid off residents anyway. Pearson Education received $80 million from the state to move 600 workers from Bergen County to Hudson County, and then got an additional $50 million from the city to lay off 500 more New Jersey workers and hire New Yorkers instead.

Tax breaks also went to companies that didn't pay much in taxes to begin with. In March Honeywell was awarded a $40 million to relocate its offices from Morris Township to Morris Plains even though it is one of the National Public Interest Research Group's 'Dirty Thirty' that paid more in lobbying for tax breaks than they paid in federal taxes.

"Taxes are how we pay for critical goods and investments that lead to shared prosperity, but the system only works when residents and corporations all pitch in and pay their fair share," said Ann Vardeman, organizer for New Jersey Citizen Action. "Why is Governor Christie giving tax cuts to companies that cheat the system and either don't create jobs or actually lay off New Jersey workers?"

The coalition urged legislators to scale back corporate subsidies and use the savings for aggressive investment in higher education, transit, public safety and infrastructure.

Every dollar in corporate tax breaks is a dollar that's not spent building roads and bridges, training a competitive workforce, or making sure our communities are safe enough to open and run a business. Assemblyman Chivukula and other New Jersey legislators have the opportunity to end Christie's corporate tax breaks and force big business to finally pitch in. The question is, will they do it?

The press conference was organized by the Better Choices for New Jersey Campaign, a coalition of over 80 community groups, labor unions, environmental groups, social service providers and faith based organizations dedicated to fighting for increased investment in essential public services to foster a shared economic recovery.

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