New Jersey Policy Perspective has released a damning new report on New Jersey’s out-of-control use of corporate tax subsidies under the Christie administration. The report shows that giveaways to corporations have skyrocketed, while the promised benefit to New Jersey residents has plummeted, leaving taxpayers holding the bag. In a state that is failing to meet its basic obligations to residents, giving billions of dollars to corporations that offer very little in return is a bad investment that highlights the Christie Administration’s perverse priorities.
NJEA has long opposed the misuse and overuse of corporate tax giveaways that divert public dollars to well-connected private entities and leave critical public services like education underfunded and struggling. The report shows that the giveaways have grown more than 1,000 percent under the Christie administration. Even worse, the cost per job allegedly created or saved has topped $83,000 since changes to the program in late 2013. In Camden, a hotbed of giveaways, the cost per job is a staggering $276,000.
NJEA’s top leaders expressed their dismay at the report’s findings and repeated their call for a dramatic overhaul of the state’s approach to economic development. NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer said the numbers just don’t add up for taxpayers. “There is no way to justify taking tax dollars from hard-working New Jersey residents and giving them to corporations that use threats of leaving to squeeze more subsidies out of the state,” said Steinhauer. “We should use those resources for vital services like public education that benefit every resident, not just a few wealthy CEOs.”
NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan noted that New Jersey’s schools are consistently rated among the very best in the nation, a key factor in attracting and retaining businesses in the state. “Because of our great public schools, we have a well-trained, highly educated workforce in New Jersey,” said Blistan. “Our great schools and our workforce are what good companies are looking for when they decide where to locate. We need to use our resources to keep our schools strong and successful so that businesses will be fighting for the opportunity to locate here.”
NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Sean M. Spiller noted that Gov. Christie vetoed a prevailing wage provision in the 2013 overhaul bill. That provision would have ensured fair wages for custodial, security and maintenance workers on any project subsidized under the program. “It says a lot about this governor’s priorities that he’s willing to give billions of dollars to corporations to bring jobs to New Jersey, but he refuses to support common-sense measures to ensure that those jobs pay a decent living wage,” said Spiller. “We need a state government that puts people first and doesn’t allow corporations to exploit either taxpayers or employees.”