Category Archives: New Jersey Policy Perspective

As A Matter Of Fact…Reality Check: Income Taxes Don’t Impede Economic Growth

by Jon Whiten | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

As Gov. Chris Christie prepares to unveil the specifics of his proposed 10-percent income tax cut at next week’s budget address, he’s working under a key tenet of conservative economics: that high tax rates harm economic growth.

There’s just one problem, according to a new national report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP): that tenet doesn’t match up with reality.

These claims are based largely on misleading analyses generated by Arthur Laffer, long-time spokesman of a supply-side economic theory that President George H. W. Bush once called “voodoo economics” because of its bizarre insistence that tax cuts very often lead to higher revenues. Recently, Laffer’s consulting firm has been very successful (with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity, and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page) in spreading the talking point that the nine states without personal income taxes have economies that far outperform those in the nine states with the highest top tax rates.

In reality, however, residents of “high rate” income tax states are actually experiencing economic conditions at least as good, if not better, than those living in states lacking a personal income tax.

The report pits the nine “high rate” states identified by Laffer (a list that includes New Jersey) against the nine states that don’t have a broad-based personal income tax in three categories: growth per capita, median family income and unemployment rate.

From 2001 to 2010, the “high rate” states have seen stronger growth per capita and less erosion of median family income, while the average unemployment rate has been the same as the un-taxed states.

The bottom line, according to ITEP?

“There is no reason for states to expect that reducing or repealing their income taxes will improve the performance of their economies.”

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Gov. Chris Christie, income taxes, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), New Jersey Policy Perspective

As A Matter Of Fact…Business Leaders Agree: Raising the Minimum Wage Makes Sense

by Jon Whiten
Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

While legislative leaders’ efforts to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour have taken a backseat in recent weeks to the governor’s proposed income tax cut, similar legislation in New York is gaining the backing of some high-profile business advocates.

First up was a Daily News op-ed co-authored by New York City’s billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg that used free-market ideology to argue for bolstering the minimum wage.

“[The minimum wage] helps taxpayers by reducing the number of people who might otherwise have to rely on public assistance to survive,” Bloomberg and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wrote. “Taxpayers benefit when government dependency is low – and so does the economy.”

The Daily News piece was followed a few days later by an editorial in business bible Crain’s that called for the minimum wage to be raised to $8.50 an hour and tied to inflation going forward. Crain’s said opponents’ arguments that a wage increase will destroy low-paid jobs just aren’t true; it pointed to New York’s 2004 raising of the wage as an example.

“If the change had a cataclysmic effect on businesses that depend heavily on minimum-wage workers, we certainly missed it,” the paper wrote. “Neither, quite obviously, did it shower undeserved riches on the bottom rung of workers.”

If and when the minimum wage bill here in New Jersey starts to pick up steam again, we can only hope some of the state’s leading voices for business will, like Bloomberg and Crain’s, avoid a knee-jerk dismissal of the proposal, and look instead at how it will help our entire economy to flourish.

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Michael Bloomberg, minimum wage, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NY Daily News, taxpayers

Media Myth That Cutting Taxes Boosts Revenue Revived For 2012

Media Matters has a terrific post about the myth that tax cuts generate revenues and that bigger tax cuts generate larger revenues.

Media Matters shows how these claims are debunked by not only by those on the Left, like Paul Krugman but also by those on the Right, who actually proposed the claim and sold it to Ronald Reagan and George w. Bush.

Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist who was the first chairman of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers estimated that a 10 percent tax cut would in fact reduce tax revenue — but only by 3 to 5 percent.

“It is not that you get more revenue by lowering tax rates, it is that you don’t lose as much,” he said. [The New York Times, 3/26/08]


Read … Here

This post I think ties in nicely with the last post from NJPP about what our tax dollars actually pay for.

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Filed under Martin Feldstein, Media Matters, media myth, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Paul Krugman, President George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, supply side economics, tax cuts, tax revenues

As A Matter Of Fact ….What Do Taxes Pay For? A Better Quality of Life for Our Children

January 25th, 2012, by Jon Whiten Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …


While it’s a well-worn cliché that “nobody likes to pay taxes,” one question isn’t asked often enough: what do those taxes pay for?

According to a new national study, they pay for a higher quality of life for our children.

Investing in Public Programs Matters: How State Policies Impact Children’s Lives, released last week by the Foundation for Child Development (FCD), finds “a strong relationship” between state tax rates and the overall quality of life for children.

The report’s key findings are that “higher state taxes are better for children,” and that “greater investments in government programs are strongly related to better quality-of-life for children in a state.”

The report, along with the annual KIDS COUNT data book that ranks New Jersey fifth — comes as states around the country, including New Jersey, are reacting to fiscal crises with austere, cuts-only spending plan, and it shows the folly of such an approach.

“Although states are currently revenue-starved, this is exactly the wrong time to reduce taxes,” says FCD president Rudy Takanishi. “The revenues generated by taxes should be used to invest more in the education and health of our children. Policymakers must recognize that the cost of shortchanging children today is too high a price to pay in the future.”

There’s good news here for New Jersey: the Garden State ranked first in the nation on the Child Well-Being Index, barely edging out Massachusetts. This finding, based on 2007 data, reaffirms the need to resist further cuts to education and other crucial public programs.

The stakes — our children’s well-being, and our state’s future prosperity – couldn’t be higher.

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Child Well-Being Index, education cuts, Foundation for Child Development (FCD), Kids Count, New Jersey Policy Perspective, quality of life, tax cuts, Taxes

As A Matter Of Fact…New Jersey Offers Goya $80 Million to Create Nine New Jobs




October 24th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

Imagine you are a New Jersey job seeker (one of 418,000 unemployed in the state as of September, 2011, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development) and you read in the news that a firm will be getting a state subsidy to hire 175 new workers. You would be thrilled to see those new job opportunities in the state, right?

But, in the case of Goya Foods, Inc., only nine truly new jobs are being created.

Nine.

Of the other 166 “new” workers, 66 would be moved from Goya’s location in Bethpage, New York and 100 already work for Goya as contractors based in Secaucus, according to documents from the state Economic Development Authority (EDA). So these “new” workers are actually existing employees.

Those 100 current contractors may be counted as new workers because they will be converted to direct payroll employees or become part of a professional employer organization (PEO). The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations describes PEOs as enabling “clients to cost-effectively outsource the management of human resources, employment benefits, payroll and workers’ compensation.” Counting current workers as new workers might be technically correct under the subsidy law — but it just doesn’t make sense.

The state’s tax subsidy for these nine new workers is being offered under the newly revised Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit (UTHTC) statute. It is intended to provide an incentive to a firm by lowering its state corporate business tax obligation so that a company will make capital investments in buildings in urban areas near transit and create jobs.

Earlier this month, the EDA approved the $80 million-plus UTHTC for Goya Foods. The company would get that tax credit for building a new 600,000 square foot headquarters/distribution center in Jersey City, a half-mile from the Jersey City PATH station. Aside from the 175 “new” workers, 316 current Goya workers would move to the new facility from Secaucus. Goya’s current headquarters in Secaucus would be converted to a manufacturing facility and 53 jobs would be moved there from elsewhere in Secaucus, but would not be part of the $80 million subsidy.

Further, Goya is to benefit from the expansion of one of the state’s Urban Enterprise Zones to include the part of Jersey City where Goya plans to relocate, according to the Jersey Journal. Urban Enterprise Zones offer companies a host of tax benefits. The company is also seeking a 20-year property tax abatement for its new headquarters/distribution facility in Jersey City, which would lower the firm’s property tax bills; the Jersey City Council will vote to introduce the measure this week, with final approval to possibly come in the second week of November.

But that all may not be enough to keep Goya in New Jersey, according to EDA documents.

New Jersey is competing with New York state, because Goya is also considering moving North Jersey workers to an 892,943 square foot site in Suffern, New York, in Rockland County. No public information was provided by the EDA about the subsidies that may have been offered by the state of New York to woo Goya.

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Economic Development Authority, Goya Foods, Jersey City NJ, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, New Jersey Policy Perspective, tax abatements

As A Matter Of Fact…We’ve got a situation: NJ taxpayers snookered


September 26th, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …
By Sarah Stecker

Do a quick Google search and you will find over 170 citations on New Jersey giving out what has been dubbed the “Snooki Subsidy.” That is a reference to the decision on September 14 by the state Economic Development Authority (EDA) to give a $420,000 film tax credit to the production company, 495 Productions Inc., which produced the first season of MTV’s reality show “Jersey Shore.” Following a public uproar, the governor said a few days ago he is considering blocking the film tax credit for that show.

Try a second Google search and you will find but 29 articles on the state’s decision to give a subsidy worth as much as $82 million to Pearson, Inc., so the publishing company will move its workers in Upper Saddle River to a new building in Hoboken. The subsidy comes from the state’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit, which is meant to create new jobs in the cities by encouraging companies to invest capital in urban areas near transit stations. To qualify, a company must bring in a minimum of 250 jobs. The credits are then deducted from the company’s state corporate tax obligation.

People in New Jersey are expressing more outrage over a relatively small, half-million dollar subsidy for a reality show than they are over tens of millions being given to a global corporation simply to shift existing jobs about 27 miles within the state.

New Jersey has decided to award Pearson the subsidy even though the company has decided to move about a third of the firm’s existing New Jersey workforce to New York City, where it stands to collect up to another $50 million in tax subsidies. In the end, by playing New Jersey off New York, Pearson could collect more than $130 million in subsidies from two states for just moving jobs around the region.

Not even Snooki is that brazen.

Several questions come to mind about the Pearson subsidies. First, and foremost: How important were the subsidies?

Perhaps the New York City location is attractive enough without the subsidies. EDA certainly seemed to think that on September 14 as reflected in its summary of the Pearson grant:

The alternative site option[to New Jersey] is 330 Hudson Street in Lower Manhattan, New York which is proximate to where Pearson has current operations and is desirous from both the talent pool with the skill sets the company seeks combined with the co-location of certain related business and editorial activities within facilities to enhance collaboration and productivity.

It turns out that assessment was accurate. Pearson will move more than 600 workers to 330 Hudson Street, according to an announcement by the company September 19. Clearly, the company wanted to take advantage of that local labor pool and the opportunity for current staff to be close to one another. Those seem like core business reasons to move operations.

A second question might be why officials and taxpayers in New Jersey are unhappy about giving $420,000 to subsidize Jersey Shore production, but seemingly glad to divert up to $82 million in taxpayers’ money to a successful publisher which didn’t even keep all of its employees in New Jersey?

While Jersey Shore certainly is a questionable place to invest taxpayer dollars, investing tens of millions to keep a few hundred jobs in Hoboken rather than lower Manhattan is an unwise investment on a far greater scale. And, it greatly undermines the state’s ability to provide important services to all residents.

MM Note: Earlier today Governor Christie stripped Snookie and the rest of her Jersey Shore pals of the $420K tax subsidy that they enjoyed during their first season of production.

Officials in Seaside Heights and those in the film industry testified at a committee hearing last week stating that tax incentive was well worth it because it brings millions of dollars and additional jobs to the state.

So was this just another example of the the Governor being penny foolish and acting tough without realizing the the potential consequences of his actions just make himself look better to his Republican friends that are courting him to run for President next year? Maybe

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Filed under Economic Development Authority, film industry, Jersey Shore, MTV, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Snookie, tax subsidies, Urban Transit Hub Tax Credits

As A Matter Of Fact…The importance of Social Security


September 22nd, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact

By Mary Forsberg

Social Security is an American mainstay, as much a part of our culture as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. Established in 1935, it now provides benefits to over 50 million people, about one in every six U. S. citizens. While three-quarters of those receiving benefits are retirees or elderly widow(er)s, 19 percent receive disability insurance payments and 4 percent receive benefits as minor children of parents who have died.

Social Security provides a guaranteed, progressive benefit that keeps with increases in the cost of living. By dollars paid, the U. S. Social Security program is said to be the largest government program in the world. It provides a foundation of retirement protection for nearly every American and its benefits are not means-tested. The near universal participation and the absence of means-testing make Social Security much less expensive (its administrative costs amount to just 0.9 percent of annual benefits) to administer than private retirement annuities.

Debate in Washington about how to reduce the growing federal deficit often turns to reducing social security eligibility and /or benefits. A recent report from Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security campaign supports the importance of Social Security to families, communities and state and local economies.

Did you know in New Jersey:

• Social Security provides benefits to more than 1.4 million people.
• Residents receive Social Security benefits totaling nearly $20 million a year
• The median benefit received by a retired worker is about $15,500 a year.
• Social Security is the most important source of income for the 171,400 children living in “grandfamilies,” households headed by a grandparent or other relative.
• Social Security provides valuable disability and life insurance protection for most workers. Nationwide, an estimated 3 of 10 working-aged men and 1 of 4 working-aged women will become severely disabled before reaching retirement age.
• A 30-year-old-worker who earns about $30,000 a year and has a spouse and two young children, receives Social Security insurance protection equal to private disability and life insurance policies worth $465,000 and $476,000 respectively.

Social security has been one of the most important public programs for working family in America since the great depression and clearly provides a measure of security for the elderly, the orphaned and the disabled.

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Social Security