Signing of Amazon Tax Subsidy Bill a Fitting End to the Christie Era

This afternoon Governor Christie signed A-5340, which clears the way for the state to authorize at least $3 billion in corporate tax breaks for a company that comes to New Jersey with at least 30,000 jobs and meets certain other requirements. The bill, designed with Amazon’s HQ2 in mind, is the latest expansion of these special business tax breaks in New Jersey in recent years.

This is a fitting but unfortunate end to the Christie era, with the governor – and an uncritical Democratic legislature – having overseen a massive and short-sighted expansion of corporate tax subsidies since January 2010. In fact, the governor has now presided over the approval of an astonishing number of 9-figure subsidy deals – 13 to be precise – and with this final legislative act, will clear the way for a colossal 10-figure deal.

Instead of coming up with a sensible plan to reverse billions of dollars of disinvestment in New Jersey’s top economic assets, like public transit or higher education or high-quality preschool, the state’s lawmakers have doubled down on trickle-down economics by clearing the way for a gigantic tax subsidy for Amazon. If New Jersey wants to build a stronger, brighter future, it needs to seriously rethink and reform its use and abuse of these special tax breaks – not just continuously expand them at every turn of the corner.

New Jersey’s subsidy surge, by the numbers (figures are up-to-date through the EDA’s December 2017 meeting – they do not include any of the deals approved this week):

  • $8.3 billion: Total amount of tax breaks approved since January 2010 (a monthly rate of $87 million)
  • $5.7 billion: Of that, the amount that’s come since December 2013, when the “Economic Opportunity Act of 2013” went into effect (a monthly rate of $117 million)

New Jersey’s 13 nine-figure subsidy deals under Christie administration (through Dec. 2017):

Panasonic (Newark): $102,408,062 February 2011

Prudential Financial (Newark): $210,828,357 June 2012

American Dream Mall (East Rutherford): $390,000,000 November 2013

Legislative overhaul goes into effect December 2013

MMC-DB Group LLC (Paterson): $105,559,214 December 2013

JP Morgan Chase (Jersey City): $224,835,000 May 2014

Sayreville Seaport (Sayreville): $223,277,590 May 2014

Holtec International (Camden): $260,000,000 July 2014

Lockheed Martin (Camden): $107,000,000 November 2014

Subaru (Camden): $117,832,868 December 2014

American Water Works (Camden): $164,187,735 June 2015

JP Morgan Chase (Jersey City): $187,781,000 July 2015

EMR Eastern (Camden): $148,589,900 September 2015

Resintech Inc. (Camden): $138,817,600 October 2016

Note #1: This does not include nine-figure deals that were closed and later abandoned before awarding any tax breaks (ie, the $261 million deal to Revel casino)

Note #2: Only one nine-figure deal preceded Christie: $164,336,000 for Goldman Sachs in Jersey City in 2000