To the Editor:

Gov. Phil Murphy is the central figure in a new campaign commercial for "New Direction New Jersey," where his tagline is "building forward." The problem for Gov. Murphy is that his idea of "building forward" isn't built on facts. Specifically, Gov. Murphy likes to proclaim his tax policies as making "New Jersey fairer." And he likes to tout his tax increases on "millionaires" and his increases of the Corporate Business Tax as examples of his fairness. 

You can't have a fairer economy when you impose multiple regressive taxes and fees which disproportionately hurt the middle class and working poor. For example, Gov. Murphy increased the gas tax on drivers throughout the state by 50 cents a gallon and that is a regressive tax which will disproportionately hurt the poor and middle class. And before Gov. Murphy starts airing commercials telling us "it was Gov. Christie's fault"; he could have simply urged the legislature to repeal all or part of the gas tax law but Gov. Murphy simply chose not to do so.

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Another set of regressive taxes that Gov. Murphy owns are the toll increases he has imposed and approved on the residents of New Jersey. He increased tolls by double-digits; including an increase of 36 percent on the NJ Turnpike and a 27 percent increase on the Garden State Parkway. And drivers on the Atlantic City Expressway will see their tolls go up anywhere between 37 percent and up to over 60 percent for some drivers.

Gov. Murphy also raised fees on ride-share companies like Uber, and those increases will disproportionately hurt the middle-class because many middle-class New Jerseyans use employment with rideshare companies like Uber as a secondary income source. Gov. Murphy also raised taxes and fees on Airbnb which will have a negative impact on middle-class Jersey shore homeowners who rent out their shore properties as a way to help pay mortgages and defray home costs.

Gov. Murphy would also have us believe that part of his plan to "build New Jersey forward" would be to make sure that New Jersey citizens who live in urban areas see improvement in their lives; once again the facts tell a different story. For example, as of July 2020, there was a 19 percent increase in shootings throughout New Jersey. In Patterson, the homicide rate increased 60 percent between 2018 and 2019. Is life fairer for the children and families that have to live with that level of increased violence? Are citizens in Elizabeth and other parts of the state that have to deal with the explosive growth of the violent Pagans biker gang experiencing a fairer New Jersey? Or does Gov. Murphy expect minority families who continue to deal with lead-tainted water in Newark to believe that he is "building New Jersey forward" for them? And don't even get me started on his unmitigated disaster of a response to Covid-19.

The facts are so overwhelmingly clear that Gov. Murphy's tenure hasn't made New Jersey "fairer" and Gov. Murphy most certainly has not "built New Jersey forward." What he has done is to implement a multitude of new taxes and fees which are regressive and disproportionately hurt the middle-class and working poor, as well as not address the quality of life issues and increased violence in our cities. And for that, he will be treated to a very fair answer at the polls in 2021.

Sincerely,

John Giotis

Raritan Township