“If you look at states that have been successful -- North Carolina, Massachusetts, and California before its recent political wars -- that’s what they did,” he said. “They focused on investment as opposed to pursuing a redistribution agenda and property tax relief.”
The long-range vision that Medina, Seneca, and MacInnes are talking about has largely been missing from the Christie-Buono campaign, much less a grand economic master plan with a plan to pay for it.
Buono has promised to increase state spending on a wide range of initiatives that could make New Jersey more competitive, but has failed to provide a plan to pay for them. The millionaire’s tax she wants to reimpose would be dedicated to a redistribution of property tax relief.
Christie has touted the potential of the merger of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers University to produce job-creating research partnerships with biotech, pharmaceuticals, and other cutting-edge industries. But he has been reluctant to put forward any long-term plan to provide a dedicated funding source for transportation infrastructure or any other long-term investment that would conflict with his “no new taxes” pledge.
“Except for rebuilding after Sandy, Christie has not talked about capital investment in infrastructure,” MacInnes complained. “The $750 million higher-education bond issue was not as strategically targeted as it should have been and represents a marginal step against the scale of investment required over time to take advantage not only of the Rutgers-UMDNJ merger, but also to create the smaller research centers and public-private collaboration we will need to take full advantage of the assets we have.”
Buono has noted repeatedly during her campaign that she sponsored legislation to engender public-private research partnerships between New Jersey colleges and private-sector firms, but that Christie vetoed it along with a slew of other Democratic-sponsored job-creation bills that he dismissed as “a pile of crap.”
Buono, MacInnes and other liberal Democrats have argued that Christie’s focus on cutting taxes to spur economic growth is the wrong approach.
“When you look at where the good-paying, high-quality jobs have gone, the idea that they are going to low-tax states is fictional. Sanofi Aventis, Hoffman-LaRoche and companies like them are going to Cambridge, California, New York City, Germany -- to places where higher education is strong and taxes are high. The conversation we’re having about tax cuts is the wrong one.”
Tom Bracken, president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, disagrees.
“Gov. Christie has done more in the last four years than any governor I can remember going back to Tom Kean to make New Jersey competitive,” said Bracken. “Would everybody like to have more projects underway? Absolutely. He took a situation that was going downhill and turned it around and now we have some momentum going forward.”
Bracken joined Seneca and Medina in praising Christie and the Democratic Legislature’s leadership for working together in bipartisan cooperation to approve a series of targeted business tax cuts in 2010; the Rutgers-UMDNJ merger; a pension and health benefits overhaul, a 2 percent cap on local spending increases to limit property tax increases; and, most recently, a revamping of the state’s corporate tax incentive program.