Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy’s vision for New Jersey includes the establishment of a public bank and the formation of an innovation cabinet that he says will help the state regain its reputation as a hub for technological advancement.“We were Silicon Valley before there was a Silicon Valley,” Murphy said Thursday in a speech focused on the economy at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.
Murphy, a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and Goldman Sachs executive, said that, as governor, he would look to create an innovation cabinet made up of leaders from various sectors that he would meet “frequently and intensely” with.
“We believe in finding solutions to our problems,” Murphy said. “Not sitting on the sidelines.”
For Murphy, the cornerstone of his economic policy is a proposal to form a public bank “owned by the people of New Jersey” that would offer attractive rates to, and be used to reinvest in, state-based startups, businesses and infrastructure projects.
“This money belongs to the people of New Jersey,” Murphy said. “It’s time to bring the money home so that it can build our future.”
Though one of the main purposes of the bank would be to keep taxpayer money from going to out-of-state and foreign investments, as could be the case with the current commercial bank setup, Murphy said he sees the public bank as a “complementary tool” rather than a “competitor” to those operations.
This model in the United States, which is currently only used in North Dakota, would include the returning of profits as non-tax revenues.
“New Jersey will get back to investing in New Jersey,” said Murphy. “Period.”
Murphy stressed the importance of focusing on economic issues as the foundation for tackling the rest of the state’s problems, adding that, currently, he believes New Jersey is “simply not living up to its potential.”
“When we get this right, we get New Jersey right,” Murphy said. “This is a vision of a state led by a governor who is actually interested in governing.”
Murphy also reiterated other related parts of his platform, including his support for a $15 minimum wage, an expanded earned income tax credit program, statewide paid sick leave and ensuring that equal pay is given for equal work.
“An economy simply works better when people can afford to participate in it,” said Murphy, who also talked up the need to invest in road and rail infrastructure.
While Murphy noted that he believes tax incentives “have a place” in overall business policy, he railed against the expanded use of them by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.
Murphy said that Christie’s “showering” of corporations with “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in incentives is “outdated and small thinking.”
He also alluded to the need for a so-called millionaire’s tax, or a surcharge on the state’s wealthiest, whom Murphy said need to “pay their fair share.”
“Tax breaks for multimillionaires will be ended and tax loopholes for corporations closed,” said Murphy.
It has been well established that Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop also are eyeing a run for governor in next year’s election, Murphy is currently the only Democrat to have formally thrown his hat in the ring, doing so in May.
“It’s time for a governor who has your back,” Murphy said. “I will.”