Opinion: Without benefits reform, Murphy economic goals unachievable

In an op-ed published on the website of the Asbury Park Press, Peter Reinhart, director of the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University, chair of New Jersey Future and a member of the Economic and Fiscal Policy Working Group, takes a look at Governor Phil Murphy’s calls for New Jersey to develop an “innovation economy” without addressing the state’s ongoing public employee pension and benefits crisis. What about the business tax climate?

In an editorial that ran in the Asbury Park Press and other Gannet New Jersey newspapers, the news organization looks askance at Governor Murphy’s economic policy speech on Monday sighting a lack of attention to the state’s skyrocketing taxes, especially as the state is poised to have highest corporate taxes in the nation, and a lack of specifics surrounding his proposals. They also found great irony in the speech taking place on a date when the state’s gas tax was increasing yet again and a number of new taxes were going into effect.

Press of Atlantic City: Murphy Should Stop Vicious Circle of Gas Tax Increases

The editorial board of the Press of Atlantic City calls upon Governor Phil Murphy to work with the legislature to address the possibility of cascading gasoline tax increases leading to New Jersey having the highest gasoline tax in the nation. The newspaper cites the impact that the tax has had on the competitiveness of the state’s gasoline retailers and the possibility that the tax revenue may be diverted from its intended purpose. Health Benefits Changes Welcome; More Needed

The editorial board of The Record was not very impressed with the agreement announced by Governor Murphy and public employee union leaders that could save taxpayers $500 million over 2 years by making adjustments to the health care benefits the state provides to public employees and retirees.

“…the state is spending $15,680 this year on health care for the average employee and $12,988 for the average retiree, according to figures from the state treasurer's office. Private-sector employers in New Jersey spend an average of $4,747 per employee for health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.”

“This is progress, yes, but it is more nibbling at the edges, when far greater steps toward a more affordable, sustainable future are in order…This is a start, but more substantive fiscal responsibility must come before it’s too late. Instead of calling the health plan changes a “win-win,” we would call it a “partial win” that will be short-lived if other substantive changes aren’t brought soon.”

Daily Record: Editorial Mischaracterized Millennial Flight

In an opinion piece published in the Daily Record, Courier News and Home News Tribune, GSI’s President Regina M. Egea responded to an editorial published in those respective news outlets entitled “No, we’re not losing all the good people” that was based on a report issued by New Jersey Policy Perspective and researched by Rutgers students, that sought to downplay the flight of millennials and others from New Jersey.

Press of Atlantic City: Sweeney candid on pensions in push for true fiscal reform

In an appearance before the editorial board of the Press of Atlantic City, Senate President Steve Sweeney offered a candid assessment of the main opponents to true pension and benefit reform - public employee unions:

“He said public sector labor unions have made their pensions unsustainable and have targeted for re-election defeat leaders who have sought to fix them instead of just pouring more money into them.

Sweeney’s blunt message to the public unions now: “You’re the problem here. You gamed your pensions, you legislated your pensions, you pushed through things that shouldn’t have been done,” he said. “You didn’t pay for it and you have the gall to stand out there saying, ‘We’ve paid what we were supposed to pay.’ Not true.””

Press of Atlantic City: Deduction Cap Increases Pressure on NJ officials to cut spending

The editorial board of the Press of Atlantic City takes New Jersey government to task over the real reason behind their opposition to the federal cap on state and local (SALT) tax deductions:

“This sort of progressive taxation is much like the millionaire’s tax sought by Murphy and some fellow Democrats. The fact that they’re against it when the revenue goes to another branch of government shows their concern for revenue outweighs that for working and middle-class families.

And that’s the key to why high-taxing states are trying to void the deduction cap. Wealthy people who can no longer write off a significant percentage of their state and local taxes are much less likely to support tax increases and more likely to start demanding that spending be cut in order to balance state budgets.

Working and middle-class families have born the full brunt of repeated increases in New Jersey taxes. They should be glad to have affluent families join them and start demanding that state officials reform state spending to make the burden tolerable for residents and the economy.”

ROI-NJ: Did Economic and Fiscal Review Go Far Enough?

Garden State Initiative President Regina M. Egea was quoted in an ROI-NJ piece by Anjalee Khemlani on reactions to the report released by the Economic and Fiscal Policy Review Workgroup created Senate President Steve Sweeney: 

“What was striking in the report was a lack of a plan of action,” she said. “Recommendations that do not include costs to implement and expected savings, along with a timeline of implementation, is not really a plan; but, rather, another committee report.

“Without a commitment to implement, residents and business leaders are likely to see this as just another report that will take its place on a shelf collecting dust,” she said. “It was heartening to see to the report include the recommendations on health benefits made by the Byrne-Healey Commission, albeit without mentioning their report.

“Unless we are willing to tackle the 800-pound gorilla in the room, which is the unsustainable level of payment of pension benefits, which this report fails to do, things like … consolidation and shared services are distractions that just nibble at the edges of our financial crisis.” NJ Spending Cut Task Force Report Dead on Arrival? - Editorial

The editorial board of the Asbury Park Press takes a dim view of the chances of meaningful reform coming from the report issued by Senate President Steve Sweeney and his New Jersey Economic & Fiscal Policy Working Group citing the power of public employee unions and the reluctance of Governor Phil Murphy to “to alienate the unions or to take steps to relieve the property tax burden in New Jersey. “ Opinion: NJ's Bleak Fiscal Outlook is about to get worse. Are more taxes the solution?

In an op-ed that appeared on, Thomas J. Healey, a co-chair of the Pension and Health Benefits Commission (PHBC) formed by former Gov. Chris Christie and assistant secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan, addresses the very deep hole that New Jersey faces in coming years due to health benefits and pensions owed to public employees. Opinion: Continued Inaction on NJ's pension crisis risks insolvency

In an op-ed that appeared on, Tom Byrne, who was Chairman of the State Investment Council and served as a member of the New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission in 2014-17, offers a dire warning on what the state’s continued failure to address the pension and benefits crisis will mean for the state’s long-term fiscal solvency.

Washington Post: Connecticut is drowning in debt. Should the rest of us have to pay?

At Garden State Initiative, we have written at length of how Connecticut is a cautionary tale for New Jersey when it comes to economic policy. In this op-ed from the Washington Post, former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, highlights why, states like Connecticut, Illinois, California and, yes, New Jersey, need to get their fiscal houses in order before its too late, and why, under our federal system, there is not a realistic chance of a bailout coming from Washington. More cuts to NJ pensions and health benefits? Not so fast says Phil Murphy political columnist Charles Stile reports on Governor Phil Murphy’s reluctance to engage the “800 lb. gorilla in the room” - growing costs of public employee pensions and benefits.

“Rising debt, pension, public-worker health care and school costs threaten to gobble up every new dollar coming into the state — those costs alone represented 90 percent of new spending in Murphy's first budget. The state's ability to invest in infrastructure, dispense property tax aid and respond to emergencies will be severely curtailed.” 

Press of Atlantic City: NJ Approach to Business, Economy Not Working for Its People

In an op-ed on the recent state budget agreement, the Press of Atlantic City took legislators and Governor Murphy to task for a budget that was heavy on spending and tax increases. They closed with a stern warning:

“New Jersey’s high-spending, heavy-taxing big government might be working well for its officials, its union workers and a small number of subsidized corporations, but it is poorly serving the people of the state. At some point they may decide their elected officials are doing the same.”

NJ Spotlight: NJ Scores Another Own Goal With "Horrendous" Tax Choices

In a July 9 op-ed former New Jersey State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff took apart the recently enacted budget deal:

“If I were asked to make a list of tax policy changes that would do maximum harm to New Jersey’s competitive position and long-term economic vitality, I would have a hard time improving upon the last-minute budget compromise announced on June 30.”

City Journal: Murphy's Law

New Jersey faced a government shutdown late last week when its governor, Democrat Phil Murphy, squabbled with leaders of his own party in the state legislature over whose taxes to raise—those of businesses or those of wealthy individuals. In the end, officials compromised and raised taxes on both. The tax burden will increase by about $440 million in a state where residents and businesses already pay some of the nation’s steepest levies.