As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tours New Hampshire, hoping to convince voters there to choose him as their preferred Republican, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) is getting ready to offer a massive tax break to JPMorgan Chase to get the company to locate in Jersey City. The tax incentive is estimated to run at nearly $19 million per year for 10 years.
Adding that subsidy to other major projects financed during Christie’s time in the governor’s chair would surpass $6 billion in corporate tax subsidies this decade, according to the nonpartisan think tank the New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). That’s a huge jump from the previous decade, when just $1.2 billion in tax subsidies were granted. All told, the NJEDA is considering $308 million in tax breaks Thursday morning.
For Christie, the tax incentives and the jobs they bring to his state are an important piece of his platform as a presidential candidate. He is using his experience as the chief executive of New Jersey on the campaign trail to differentiate himself from some of the other Republicans in the race. He frequently mentions the private job sector growth seen under his leadership as a good reason why voters should look his way.
Critics of the policies say that the breaks are pushing up the cost per job in a spiral that is getting out of hand. In 2014, the cost per job in New Jersey was at an all-time high of $80,000, up from 2009, when the cost per job was just $18,000.
“Despite the billions of special tax breaks approved over the past 5-and-a-half years, New Jersey’s economy remains worse than fragile,” a memo from the NJPP said. “The state has recovered just 72 percent of the jobs it lost during the Great Recession, far less than our neighbors or the nation as a whole.”
In addition to the JPMorgan tax breaks on the table Thursday are a $27 million tax incentive for Jaguar Land Rover of North America, $40 million for a 400-unit residential project in downtown Jersey City and $33 million for an “Atlantic City Contact Center.”
Corporate tax subsidies have sped up in recent years since Christie signed the Grow New Jersey Assistance program into law in 2012. Other examples of tax subsidies in recent history include an $82 million deal to bring a Philadelphia 76ers practice facility to the Camden waterfront last year and another $303 million in combined tax credits over a decade that was approved last for JPMorgan Chase and RBC Capital Markets to create 1,000 jobs.