NEWARK, NJ - The Republican leader of the state Senate said Gov. Phil Murphy's tax plan ruined Newark's chances of being selected for Amazon's second headquarters.
State Sen. Thomas Kean Jr (R-Union) put the onus of the governor because he signed a budget in July that had businesses bearing the brunt of a more than $1 billion tax increase. The budget was passed after haggling from Democrats in the state Legislature over which taxes to raise.
“New Jersey was well on the path to creating the stable, predictable tax environment that employers like Amazon require until Governor Murphy’s budget reversed nearly a decade of fiscal discipline,” Kean said in a statement. “The massive multi-billion dollar business tax increase signed by Governor Murphy in July was the nail in the coffin for Newark’s proposal to host HQ2.”
The tax plan from July included higher corporate business taxes and closed loopholes that were expected to bring in more than $800 million. Corporations that make more than $1 million in income also got a tax increase of 11.5 percent -- up from 9 percent -- that will steadily decrease over the next few years.
Kean cited an annual report from a conservative think-tank known as the Tax Foundation that gave New Jersey one of the lowest ratings for corporate taxes. New Jersey has scored low on the report, even in 2015.
"New Jersey has many positives to offer, including a highly-educated and talented workforce, a history of innovation, and an amazing location,” Kean's statement added. “It’s sad to see Governor Murphy steamroll all of that with a misguided notion of tax fairness that is demonstrably making New Jersey weaker and less competitive.”
Newark was named one of 20 finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters, dubbed HQ2.
Unnamed sources have told The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times that Amazon is closing in on a deal to locate its second headquarters outside of New Jersey. The company hasn’t publicly announced its pick yet.
When asked for his reaction to Kean's statement, the governor said he wanted to know where the senator was when NJ Transit "was being gutted by his friend, Chris Christie."
"Taxes have never come up in terms of what we did in the budget. So I appreciate Senator Kean weighing in," Murphy said when TAPinto Newark asked about Amazon.
The state has offered a tax break worth up to $5 billion for Amazon and Newark also approved a $2 billion tax cut for companies that intend to create at least 30,000 new full-time jobs. Other finalist locations have also been vying for Amazon, offering sweet tax deals for the company.
The city’s tax incentive package could apply to any company looking to make a big investment in Newark, not just Amazon. When asked about it on Monday, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said simply being in the running for HQ2 has had its benefits.
The governor echoed the same sentiments today and said there's only a lot of speculation about Amazon right now.
"By the way, Amazon's consideration of Newark and Newark as a finalist is a huge win, no matter what Amazon ends up doing," Murphy said. "We would've said that from day one, right? It sharpened our game. It brought us closer together in our teams.
He added: "New York, Chicago, they face hundred-mile-an-hour fastballs everyday. In terms of corporate interest, Newark hasn't had that until this guy came along," Murphy said as he pointed to Baraka. "Now we can bat against hundred-mile-an-hour fastballs, whether they come or not."
The governor did not respond when asked if he was still in talks with Amazon. The mayor, however, told TAPinto Newark , "They've been quiet," Baraka said. "They're going to make a decision in the next couple days."