NJ.com: By being fairer, has New Jersey’s economy grown stronger?

By Tom Byrne

In a recent op-ed, Gov. Phil Murphy stated that “New Jersey is getting stronger” but cited no data in support of that claim. In fact, the most recent data shows New Jersey tied for dead last among states in the mainland U.S. in economic growth so far this year. We’ve lagged the nation for years. This means a slowly declining standard of living relative to the rest of the nation. That in turn means less tax revenue to support education and infrastructure for water quality and transportation, and other needs. It also means fewer job opportunities particularly for recent graduates. How did we slip so far from the days of Thomas Edison, Robert Wood Johnson, Bell Labs, and others?

Has our quest for “fairer” perversely interfered with our goal of “stronger?" Arguably, certain well-intentioned policies have made the average New Jerseyan worse off. We’ve made the state a less attractive place to do business with taxes that make us uncompetitive and actually discourage innovation, certain regulations that may do more harm than good, and an attitude that business owes us that may discourage certain employers. We can achieve fairness by trying to raise people up, or by unwittingly leveling us down to a lower common denominator.

Let’s discuss attitude. One of Newark’s largest employers is Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon. They are a model of socially responsible corporate behavior. They pay people well, give bonuses to employees who live in the City of Newark, and give employees $20 per week to patronize local restaurants to try to stimulate more street life in Newark. Public officials had been begging parent company Amazon to consider Newark. But when Audible did a ribbon cutting to celebrate a major expansion, neither the governor nor the mayor accepted invitations to attend. Perhaps we should not be surprised that Amazon didn’t give Newark a closer look after cancelling their project in New York.

Read the full piece here.