Reining in Corporate Tax Subsidies: A Better Economic Development Playbook for New Jersey

  • September 18, 2019
  • Sheila Reynertson

For years, New Jersey lawmakers fixated on big-ticket corporate tax incentives as a key driver of economic development without credible evidence that more is better — and little attention to the collateral consequences or opportunity costs.

But times have changed. High-profile debacles like FoxConn in Wisconsin and Amazon’s infamous HQ2 search have undermined the public’s perception of this costly strategy, both across the nation and here in the Garden State. Now is the opportune time for reform.

The next iteration of New Jersey’s economic development strategy must embrace two strategies. First, pivot away from overly generous tax breaks — with little oversight — to large corporations, and instead tailor the programs toward new companies within promising sectors in locations that have a greater need for job opportunities. Second, and more importantly, redirect the bulk of economic development dollars back into the public assets that benefit all employers and have a proven track record of making New Jersey an attractive place to grow a business: customized job training, safe roads and bridges, affordable homes, child care, and high-quality public schools from pre-Kindergarten through college.