Today, the New Jersey Tax Incentive Task Force that Gov. Phil Murphy called for 18 months ago to review the alleged abuses in the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Grow NJ and Economic Redevelopment and Growth (ERG) programs, released its third and final report.
Among the key findings, the report revealed that the EDA made Grow NJ and ERG awards without having or requesting required documents, and that the majority of companies applying for Grow NJ incentives did so by having professional consulting firms, with close relationships with senior state officials, work on their applications.
It also found that a total of 15 companies, between 2013 and 2019, said they all intended to relocate to Blue Hill Plaza, a corporate park in New York, not far from the New Jersey border. Employees at the EDA were suspicious of these common findings, but “did not sufficiently verify the authenticity of the claimed alternate site,” according to the report.
Other deficiencies in EDA analysis and recordkeeping were also found, with the Task Force making 27 specific recommendations for EDA improvement.
In a written statement, the governor said, “I ordered this review 18 months ago based on the troubling findings in a report issued by our independent State Comptroller. I knew then that our system of corporate tax incentives was not producing the promised jobs, but I had no idea of the ugly reality waiting to be uncovered. This administration will not tolerate fraud or self-dealing and we will ensure that every dollar of taxpayer money is spent wisely and effectively. Moving forward any incentives offered must produce the number of promised jobs for our state.
“With the information gleaned from this investigation, we can move forward with a new incentives program and ensure it is run effectively and efficiently with the proper safeguards in place,” he said.
NJBIA President and CEO Michele N. Siekerka Esq. issued the following statement in response to the completion of the Task Force’s final report:
“We remain steadfast in our view that not having had such a program for over a year has done a great disservice to New Jersey’s economy.
“As we have said since last year, oversight and reviews of the incentive programs to ensure their integrity and effectiveness are wholly appropriate. However, for New Jersey not to have this tool at its disposal for such a long period of time has made our state even less competitive – as we already lagged behind the region and the nation in economic growth in our pre-COVID-19 existence.
“Our policymakers all agree that tax incentives are an important and effective tool in New Jersey’s overall economic development toolkit. As such, we need them now to get on the same page and put forth a program immediately for the good of our state’s economy.”
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