Gov. Phil Murphy flaunted a proposal for bonus incentives that would go toward companies hiring union labor, as he and lawmakers face less than a month to agree on a new set of credits.
The 83-page legislation, which Murphy’s office introduced Wednesday, would codify five new incentives capped at $400 million a year.
Murphy, speaking at the 1776 incubator at the Cherry Hill Mall in Cherry Hill, said he wants an economic incentive program that “will create good jobs not just at the businesses who receive an award, but for the men and women of the building trades who will construct them, the doormen and janitors who will operate them, and the warehouse workers.”
We must prove to our business community that we won’t hold them hostage to Trenton’s political battles.
“We will ensure recipients honor prevailing wage laws, and we will provide a bonus for those who sign project labor agreements and hire union labor,” Murphy said in his prepared remarks.
Murphy wants the five incentives to replace the controversial, multibillion-dollar Grow New Jersey tax breaks, despite efforts by lawmakers who argue the incentives have brought enormous economic benefit to such cities as Camden and Newark, and should be continued.
The legislation does not have a sponsor in the Assembly, and it is not clear whether it has a sponsor in the state Senate.
Grow NJ expires on July 1 and Murphy has said he would be perfectly fine with letting the program expire, even if it means there is nothing in its place. The state budget also must be signed by that date, boosting the likelihood that budget and tax incentive talks will become intertwined.
“I will not unilaterally disarm our economic development while our competitor states are luring businesses, in part, through incentives,” Murphy said. “However, I will not simply renew a set of incentive programs when serious questions exist about whether they have been successful in spurring broad-based economic activity in our communities, or even if their most basic promises have been met,” he continued.
A task force Murphy convened in January unearthed allegations that businesses with close ties to political powerbroker George Norcross wrote the program to benefit themselves, their allies and clients, or provided allegedly false and misleading information to win incentives.
The task force is scheduled to hold a hearing next week where it will unveil several of its findings.
Opponents including Camden city and county officials have accused Murphy of solely going after the South Jersey locale in an effort to slap at Norcross, a strong ally of the governor’s oft political rival Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District.
“This is not about one city, one company, or one person,” Murphy responded, though he also said that “economic growth can’t just be about helping a select few and the politically connected.”
“We must prove to our business community that we won’t hold them hostage to Trenton’s political battles,” Murphy added.