Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled his picks to the 15-member board that heads the Economic Development Authority, a state agency that oversees New Jersey’s multi-billion-dollar tax incentive programs.
The governor nominated Newark Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Aisha Glover, one of the main backers behind efforts to attract Amazon’s second North America headquarters to Newark; GTBM Inc. CEO Virginia Bauer; Rosemari Hicks, an executive at RHC Consulting Group and CoWorkers Street, both based in Camden; and Democratic National Committeewoman Marcia Marley, who is chair of New Jersey Policy Perspective and head of the progressive advocacy group BlueWaveNJ. The four will serve in their posts beginning Jan. 2, 2020.
The appointments come following the resignation of by Louis Goetting, announced this week, who was named to the board in October 2017 by Republican-Gov. Chris Christie. Three other Christie picks will not serve on the board after their terms expire on Dec. 21: Tom Scrivo, John Lutz and Bill Layton.
“They know, as I and my economic team do, that our future can’t rest on delivering huge pay-outs to the best-connected among us while failing to deliver real results to so many in our communities,” Murphy said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in Trenton.
The state’s two largest corporate incentive programs – the Grow New Jersey corporate tax breaks and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth gap financing programs – expired on July 1. Murphy declined to sign a bill extending the programs, which he described as flawed. The governor and legislative leaders have been stuck in political gridlock over the program replacement, with Murphy seeking total program caps despite opposition from Sweeney.
“We are moving away from the failed ways of the past in which political connections and closed-door deals took precedence, and to a more focused, strategic and sustainable future,” Murphy said Tuesday.
The assembly speaker and senate president each get two picks, but the offices for Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Murphy picked Tim Sullivan as CEO of the EDA in February 2018, and former Goldman Sachs executive Kevin Quinn as board chair following the resignation of Lawrence Downes in April 2019.
The Senate President has argued that with Murphy’s supermajority control over the EDA board, the agency could exercise much more intense oversight of the two programs, including the caps. That alone should be grounds enough to cancel out the need for some of the oversight reforms Murphy has sought, most notably the cap, Sweeney has suggested.
“He can cap anything he wants, we can slow down the program as much as he wants, he has… new members on the board, he has the executive director, he has the chair on the board,” Sweeney told reporters following a Monday evening voting session. “So he has placed a cap on his own.”
That did not fly by Sullivan, who told NJBIZ earlier this month that the amount awarded to an applicant is based on an existing formula laid out in the Economic Opportunity Act.
“That’s not a discretionary matter for the EDA to set,” Sullivan said. “The governor can’t say that ‘I think they’d come for 60 percent of x’ via the veto. That’s not how it works.”
Sullivan admitted the governor could still overrule certain decisions by the EDA, but that many of his decisions are still bound by legislation.
“Again, this is something that we think of as a sort of separation of powers thing,” Sullivan said. “This is something the Legislature, the governor… should come together on.”