There has been a lot of news coverage lately of Governor Phil Murphy’s assault on the billions of dollars of tax incentives given to companies moving to Camden. See here, here and here for more. Even former Governor Chris Christie got into the act.
To me, it looks more like a heavyweight boxing match with Governor Murphy in one corner and George Norcross in the other. They are slugging it out! And, who doesn’t love a good political fight? The fight is even better when a group of Democrats fight with the state’s Governor from the same party.
It’s not my intention to get into whether or not the billions of dollars in tax breaks given to companies moving to Camden are a good or bad thing, everyone already has their thoughts on that issue, but the fight is fun to watch.
I will say that back in February I wrote about a sweetheart deal in which a piece of Camden waterfront property was transferred for the total sum of two dollars ($2.00) and how I found that to be odd.
Anyway, back to the fight. One has to wonder what Murphy’s endgame is here. Is he going after Norcross as a way to punish New Jersey’s Senate President Steve Sweeney?
Why even pick this fight? It’s not like Murphy has ever cared about South Jersey before.
We can argue all day long about how good former Governor Chris Christie was, but at least he paid attention to South Jersey – even when I wished he would stay away.
My point? Whether I agreed with him or not, Christie paid at least a little bit of attention to South Jersey. It appears to me the only time Murphy cares about anything in South Jersey is when he can mess with Sweeney – like the time Murphy decided to veto the minutes of a South Jersey Port Corporation meeting. Politico did a detailed piece on that Murphy stunt in which they wrote:
Gov. Phil Murphy this week vetoed the minutes of a South Jersey board stacked with allies of Senate President Steve Sweeney after the directors refused Murphy‘s request to cut ties with the agency’s general counsel.
Basically, Murphy vetoed those meeting minutes to pick a fight with Sweeney.
All this leads me to ask again, Why is Murphy picking this fight? Murphy was for tax breaks when they benefited him. Some Camden County Democrats even proved that point when, according to New Jersey Globe they said:
“We find it surprising and hypocritical that Governor Murphy has happily accepted $165 million in tax credits when he was on the management committee at the huge and lucrative firm, Goldman Sachs, and was fully prepared to give away $5 billion to the planet’s richest company, Amazon, but has feverishly insinuated without proof that irregularities “exist for tax programs that would help Camden, the Democrats said. “It must have been okay for him and Amazon because he was moving his firm to Jersey City and Amazon was considering moving to Newark.”
Frankly, that’s a good line of attack. Murphy, according to Wikipedia, retired from Goldman Sachs in “2005-06.” Yet according to a December 2003 New York Times article Goldman Sachs was “seeking subsidies to build in New York, where its headquarters have long been located.” At the time, the 42-story tower Goldman Sachs was builing in Jersey City was nearing completion – a building that received considerable tax breaks.
Camden County Democrats are absolutely right to call out Murphy on his hypocrisy over tax incentives.
I frequently complain that South Jersey Republicans always get excited when someone goes after Norcross. This time, there might be a reason to get excited because if we pay attention to this fight it is likely the Democrats fighting with Murphy might give us some useful information for 2021.
Stay tuned because this fight isn’t going to end anytime soon and, if we’re lucky, Murphy will continue to show exactly what a big hypocrite is.