NJ Politics Digest: Chamber Head Warns Democrats’ Tax Talk Could Spook Amazon

Amazon. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The head of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce had a warning for state leaders Wednesday—the more you talk about tax increases, the less chance you have of convincing Amazon to locate its new headquarters in the Garden State.

Tom Bracken, CEO and president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, told ROI-NJ that Gov. Phil Murphy’s continued support for a millionaires tax and Senate President Steve Sweeney’s call for a surcharge on businesses earning more than $1 million is likely to drive away businesses and make the state less competitive.

Bracken also faulted Sweeney for floating his plan to tax corporations the same week Amazon was scheduled to visit Newark, which is among the finalists in the company’s headquarters search.

While the state has offered $7 billion in incentives to lure Amazon, Bracken said its history of targeting different segments in an attempt to raise revenue is sure to make business leaders think twice before locating here. It’s a bipartisan problem. While Sweeney wants to tax corporations, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie last year attempted to force Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to contribute money from its reserves to the state budget.

“An outsider looking in is saying the former governor went after Horizon, the current Senate president wants to take more money from corporations… and help supplement the budget. It’s not a comprehensive tax reform plan. It’s taking bits and pieces of New Jersey and extracting money from segments of the state,” he said in the ROI-NJ report.

Bracken also said Sweeney didn’t fully explore the ramifications of the new federal tax code or its impact on New Jersey businesses before making his proposal.

The chamber head did laud Sweeney’s move last month to create The Economic and Fiscal Policy Working Group, which the Senate president has said will “undertake a long-overdue examination of the adequacy, fairness and competitiveness of our tax structure.”

Quote of the Day: “If I’m Amazon and I’m looking at this, I shake my head.” — Tom Bracken, CEO and president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, on Gov. Phil Murphy’s continued support for a millionaires tax and Senate President Steve Sweeney’s call for a surcharge on businesses earning more than $1 million.

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NJ Politics Digest: Chamber Head Warns Democrats’ Tax Talk Could Spook Amazon