Murphy again avoids committing to $5B Amazon tax break plan

“By refusing to back efforts to recruit a new Amazon headquarters to New Jersey, Phil Murphy is again putting partisan politics and his out-of-touch liberal ideology over the hardworking people of New Jersey. He’s already given Amazon 1.3 billion reasons not to come to New Jersey with his proposed tax hike. Instead of putting a $9 billion investment and 50,000 good-paying jobs at risk, Phil Murphy should stop playing politics and back bipartisan efforts to attract this innovative company to New Jersey.” – Ricky Diaz, Guadagno spokesman


Murphy again avoids committing to $5B Amazon tax break plan
By  Katie Jennings
Politico Pro

JERSEY CITY — With Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto sitting in the audience, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy on Tuesdayagain avoided committing to a plan backed by the Hudson County lawmaker to grant up to $5 billion in tax credits to attract Amazon to the state.

The Seattle-based online retailer, which is searching for a second U.S. headquarters, has pledged to create up to 50,000 jobs at a new site. Cities and states around the country, including New York, have begun courting the retail giant.

"Should we be prepared to do a lot to get Amazon here? Yes. But importantly it needs to be a deal that works for us," Murphy said at an unrelated campaign event in Jersey City. "It's not a deal at any cost."

On Wednesday, top legislative leaders from both parties, including Prieto, backed a plan proposed by Gov. Chris Christie that would change the state's corporate tax incentive program and could give Amazon tax breaks of up to $5 billion over a decade.

Murphy's opponent, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, also enthusiastically backed amending the state's tax incentive program, known as "Grow New Jersey," from a $5,000 per-job, per-year credit to a $10,000 per-job, per-year credit for projects of a massive size, such as the Amazon headquarters.
Murphy submitted a letter in support of bringing Amazon to the state, but he did not say whether he would specifically support the tax credit overhaul.

Asking why he was hedging on a plan that had the backing of the Democratic leaders of both chambers of the state Legislature, Murphy said, it was because Amazon had a "very broad list of criteria."

The solution, he said, would include a tax plan, but Amazon was looking at a range of factors, such as access to an international airport, communities that millennials want to live in and public education.

"That's the only reason I'm not specific — not because I'm dodging it — I want to make sure we put the most creative comprehensive package together that has the most appeal for them," Murphy said.

The issue is a politically sensitive one for the former Goldman Sachs executive, having spent much of his campaign railing against Christie, and by extension Guadagno, for showering large corporations with tax breaks throughout his tenure.

"We've been critical because [tax breaks have] been thrown
out as the only thing and they haven't been enforced," Murphy said, suggesting companies that receive credits haven't been held to account as to whether they create as many jobs as they say they will.

Murphy's position is not unlike that of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's, who has expressed a desire to woo Amazon, but not a willingness to offer massive tax incentives (New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been more inviting, putting tax incentives on the table).

Like de Blasio and New York City, Murphy argues that New Jersey's existing attributes are incentive enough.

"In New Jersey you've got location, public education, highly educated workforce, density, diversity, infrastructure, all of the above," he said. "I'm all in on selling the full spectrum."

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