Courier News

Group Wages Battle Against Tax Break Program

Courier News / MyCentralJersey.com — Wednesday, April 17, 2013

STAFF REPORT

NEW BRUNSWICK — On Monday, representatives of a coalition of labor and community groups staged a demonstration and placed fliers throughout a downtown post office to raise awareness about how increases in corporate tax breaks under the Christie administration has failed to create the jobs New Jersey needs.

Advocates carried a fake giant check for $2.1 billion made out to New Jersey corporations from the taxpayers of New Jersey and "signed" by Gov. Chris Christie. The fliers they handed out to people at the post office detailed some of Christie's grants, including a $261 million tax cut for the developers of the bankrupt Revel casino, $12.3 million for bailed-out bank Citigroup and $210 million to Prudential Insurance to move four blocks.

"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," Rob Duffey said. "It might be one thing if these tax cuts had created jobs, but New Jersey still ranks seventh in unemployment and 47th in economic growth."

The action comes on the heels of a report from think-tank group New Jersey Policy Perspective that details how corporate tax credits to big businesses such as 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, more than 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 University in 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 laid off residents. Pearson Education received $80 million from the state to relocate 600 workers from Bergen County to Hudson County, then received an additional $50 million from the city to lay off 500 New Jersey workers and hire New Yorkers instead, according to the speakers.

In March, Honeywell was awarded $40 million to relocate its offices from Morris Township to Morris Plains.

"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 work force, or making sure our communities are safe enough to open and run a business," Duffey said. "Assemblyman (Upendra) 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 demonstration was organized by the Better Choices for New Jersey Campaign, a coalition dedicated to fighting for increased investment in public services to foster a shared economic recovery.

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