NJ Politics Digest: Audit Doubts $11B in Tax Breaks Created Jobs

Former Gov. Chris Christie and State Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Former Gov. Chris Christie and State Senate President Steve Sweeney. Tim Larsen/Governor's Office

An audit of a state program that uses tax incentives to lure business to New Jersey has found that it’s impossible to tell whether or not the program is working as intended.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy ordered an audit of the program administered under his predecessor, Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Murphy said the incentives were improperly awarded, and that the tax dollars lost as a result could have been used for state programs and projects in desperate need.

The report by the state comptrollers office found the Economic Development Authority couldn’t substantiate claims that nearly 3,000 jobs were created as a result of the incentives, nor that fees were properly collected and recorded. The audit also claims the EDA improperly awarded $179 million in incentives and overpaid them by $6.6 million, according to the audit and according to reports by NJ101.5.

Murphy slammed the Christie administration for lax oversight. NJ.com reports that by February 2018 the EDA had approved 1,000 incentive awards worth $11 billion in about 15 years. To receive those credits, businesses were supposed to create about 162,0004 jobs while retaining 80,027 jobs and making $34 billion in capital investments.

An NJ.com report notes, however, that the state actually only awarded about $3.4 billion in tax credits to projects expected to create about 51,000 jobs, retain about 34,000 others and generate $9.3 billion in capital investment.

Quote of the Day: “Soliciting money for New Direction New Jersey in my life? Yes. It’s kosher under the laws, absolutely.” — Gov. Phil Murphy, admitting he solicited donations for New Direction New Jersey, a group that supports Murphy’s agenda but refuses to release the names of its donors. Murphy says he supports legislation to require such groups to disclose donors, though he hasn’t said which groups support New Direction, which has paid for TV ads Murphy appears in.

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NJ Politics Digest: Audit Doubts $11B in Tax Breaks Created Jobs