NEWARK – On Tax Day, two weeks after the New York Times tallied Chris Christie’s corporate welfare awards at $1.5 billion, the Republican Governor is taking some heat from the Better Choices for New Jersey coalition over his plan to give Prudential $250 million in public funds to move a few blocks down the street.
Activists from around the state gathered outside of insurance giant’s corporate headquarters with a U-Haul moving truck and offered to move the employees ‘free of charge’ if Prudential, one of the nation’s most profitable companies, gave up Christie’s proposed $250 million tax credit.
“Since taking office Gov. Christie has given billions in public dollars to the wealthiest one percent in the form of personal income tax cuts and corporate subsidies,” said Bill Holland, coordinator of the Better Choices for New Jersey campaign. “Far from stimulating the economy, his policies have New Jersey lagging behind other states in job growth while working families pay more and get less in essential services.”
The $250 million subsidy offered to Prudential through the Urban Transit Hub Credit has brought on a lawsuit by the owners of Gateway Plaza, where the company is currently headquartered, because the state grant has ensured Prudential will vacate its offices at the end of its lease, leaving the property owners with no other viable renters.
Prudential is no stranger to tax credits. When Prudential acquired its Gateway 1 office near Penn Station in 1973, it received the remainder of a 15-year tax abatement granted to the developers in 1971.
In 2010 it received a federal tax income refund of $722 million despite reporting $2.4 billion in profits to shareholders.
Advocates noted that the grant was just one of hundreds given to businesses since Christie took office in January 2010.
“Panasonic received $102.4 million to move its offices from Secaucus to Newark last year, taxpayers spent $261 million to open the Revel Casino in Atlantic City and Citigroup got another $12.3 million of our money,” said James J. Devine, a MoveOn.org organizer. “Gov. Christie is negotiating new subsidies for the giant mall development formerly known as Xanadu while proposing lower income taxes for the richest New Jerseyans, leaving 99 percent of the people struggling.”
“Every dollar spent on ineffective and wasteful corporate subsidies is a dollar that isn’t spent on essential services,” said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action. “Instead of giving even more tax cuts to corporations, Governor Christie and the legislature should restore devastating cuts to public investments like the Earned Income Tax Credit, New Jersey Family Care, foreclosure prevention, mass transit, and public education. These are the sort of crucial investments that will ensure New Jersey is a good place to live, work, and do business.”
Though these subsidies are often granted in the name of job growth, New Jersey’s unemployment rate hovers at 9%, above the national average – and the state has recovered only 20 percent of the 261,000 jobs lost during the recession. Prudential has promised to add 400 jobs to its payroll over the next ten years, but the New York Times report noted that these were forecasted based on historical company growth trends and would likely be created even without the Urban Transportation Hub grant.
“New Jersey can make better choices that will generate the kind of job growth this state needs,” said Holland. “By asking the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share, the state can afford to make key investments in transit, education, and public safety that will lead to long term job growth and prosperity 100% of its residents can share in.”
Better Choices for New Jersey represents over 80 organizations including the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Jersey Citizen Action, and the New Jersey Environmental Federation. The campaign calls for increased investment in critical public services and long-term solutions to New Jersey’s fiscal troubles. Some of its revenue proposals were adopted in the budget for FY 2010.
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