NJ Senate Select Committee’s Corporate Welfare Dog and Pony Show

The scene at today's select committee hearing in Trenton.

When NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) chose the lineup to examine NJ’s bazillion dollar corporate welfare fetish, he picked many of the same legislators whose vote enabled the madness in the first place. Invited speakers included 1) CEOs whose companies got massive multi-million dollar tax breaks and 2) their enablers.

These massive tax breaks, administrated by the Economic Development Agency, are very popular in South Jersey and especially in Camden where the billions of dollars of subsides appear to have benefited Camden residents very little if at all.

After a moment of silence for the late Senator Tony Bucco, former Camden Mayor Dana Redd took the microphone (see pic) and read a long, defensive statement. She said tax incentive benefits are “unmistakable and undeniable” and vowed that all she ever wanted to was make Camden a better place for children. So why is there still no grocery store in the city for going on a decade?

Redd went on about hope and success and kept saying “the results were undeniable.”

She plugged her time as mayor and described Camden in terms that simply are not credible. She’s describing progress that simply doesn’t reflect a city most people experience. She said Camden’s safer than it’s been in 50 years which belies the argument for bribing rich corporations to relocate Camden. All this progress is due to the EDA tax subsidizes she claimed. She laments the negative perceptions of Camden without acknowledging how her own democratic machine contributed to those negative perceptions.

“Camden is a case study on urban revival,” she added.

Next up was Susan Story CEO of the heavily subsidized NJ American Water who was proud to tout her company’s diverse workforce. She quoted Obama and said everyone deserves a shot at the American dream. She boasted of hundreds of thousands in contributions to Camden students, which is peanuts compared to their $164,ooo,ooo tax subsidy.

How many iPads could we buy for $164,000,000?

”Camden truly is a city on the rise,” she concluded.

Still no grocery store though.

The President and CEO of Subaru USA Tom Doll was next. He admitted that the $118m tax subsidy bribe was the only reason Subaru’s not HQ’d in Indiana right now. He believes Subaru of America has lived up to their end of the bargain. He seems miffed we’re not more grateful for everything he and his company have done for residents of NJ.

Mr Doll had nothing to say about the hole in Cherry Hill’s budget when Subaru left town for a better, sweeter, juicer deal. He also didn’t mention that his company hired Parker McCay, a Norcross-aligned law firm to get a special carve out just for them! (From The New York Times: Dominick Infante, director of communications for Subaru of America, said in an email that Mr. Sheehan worked for a real estate developer, Brandywine, which worked on what would eventually become the headquarters of Subaru. Mr. Sheehan was Brandywine’s lawyer on that project, according to public records. Until this week, the Parker McCay website hailed its success in obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits. It said one of its clients that earned tax credits in Camden was an automobile manufacturer).

He’s proud of his  commitment to giving back to Camden. He literally just said that. He lamented NJ’s property taxes is a barrier to business. He should realize we know that already.

Because unlike Tom Doll, we actually pay our taxes.

Jay Lassiter is a New Jersey taxpayers. He’s not a recipient of corporate welfare. 










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