State Senate committee holds 3rd hearing on tax incentives given to businessesPosted: Updated:
A state Senate committee evaluating New Jersey’s tax incentives heard testimony from corporations that moved jobs to Camden.
This is the third hearing conducted by the committee, which is investigating billions of dollars given out by the Economic Development Authority during the Christie administration. The committee is looking to see if the money was well used.
"Camden has witnessed unprecedented economic investment, growth and development. And that is the direct result of the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013,” former Camden Mayor Dana Redd testified.
The CEOs of Subaru and American Water told the committee that the tax breaks their companies received caused them to choose Camden.
"When Subaru of America was seeking a new U.S. headquarters, we wanted to stay in New Jersey. But our wanting to stay wasn't enough,” says Subaru of America president Thomas Doll. "The competitive package of location cost and amenities offered by the New Jersey EDA made the difference and resulted in our decision to stay local."
But Gov. Phil Murphy has blasted the tax incentive programs and vetoed an extension of the tax breaks. He has also launched his own investigation.
Progressive activist Sue Altman, an ally of the governor, says that all the incentives simply flow back to South Jersey businessman and political power broker George Norcross
"We have a number of legislators who get their money and their prestige from their relationship with George Norcross,” Altman says. “We have on the other side of this hearing beneficiaries of this tax incentive program. So, where's the independent voice and where's the voice of community residents?"
Altman says that only 2% of construction jobs in Camden went to Camden residents – a fact that Mayor Redd contested.
"There were a number of residents that got construction jobs, in fact, there were at least 20 to 30 Camden residents that worked on the construction of the Joint Health Sciences Center,” says Redd. “I would probably refute the number and ask that they get the facts right."
Redd says there is always room for the programs to be improved.
“I think you look at the programs and you revamp what needs to be revamped. You listen to the business community,” Redd says.
Democratic state Sen. Bob Smith, who chairs the committee, was absent for Monday's hearing. Republican state Sen. Joe Pennacchio chaired the meeting instead.
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