New Jersey GOP Candidate Vows to ‘Declare Economic War’ on New York
(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey needs to declare “economic war” on New York and neighboring states, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli said, as he outlined plans to lower taxes, oppose Manhattan congestion pricing and lure commuters to work closer to home.
Ciattarelli, 59, said his first state budget would be “downsized” and include a new school-funding formula that apportioned money more evenly among suburbs and cities, overhauling a tax structure that’s led to making New Jersey one of the highest taxed states in the U.S. He said he wanted to bring home tax dollars that are leaving New Jersey when residents go to work in New York.
“We need to declare economic war on our neighbors,” he said during an interview on Friday with Bloomberg editors and reporters. “Right now, they’re eating our lunch.”
‘Too Far’ for New Jersey
The former New Jersey assemblyman is trying to unseat Governor Phil Murphy, who is favored to become the first Democrat in the state to secure a second gubernatorial term in four decades.
To do that, Ciattarelli is trying to strike a delicate balance between the more liberal Murphy and Republican governors in Florida and Texas, who Ciattarelli said went “too far” for a Democratic-leaning state like New Jersey. So far his strategy is to appeal to moderate voters without losing his party’s base.
For instance, Ciattarelli said he didn’t agree with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s abortion law and doesn’t advocate for overturning Roe v. Wade. Ciattarelli does, however, advocate for requiring parental notification for women under 18 who want to get an abortion. He also said New Jersey shouldn’t allow women to get abortions after the seventh month of their pregnancies.
He also said he didn’t support efforts by Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to ban school mask mandates or vaccine requirements. Ciattarelli said residents and businesses should have a choice on whether they want to wear masks or get vaccines. Ciattarelli is vaccinated.
Ciattarelli said he didn’t vote for a presidential candidate in 2016 and voted for Republican President Donald Trump in 2020. Ciattarelli said he wouldn’t vote for Trump again if he doesn’t change his stances on offshore drilling, the Gateway tunnel and the capped deduction on state and local property taxes.
Closing the Gap
Ciattarelli trails Murphy in the polls but has slowly been edging up. In a Sept. 16-20 Monmouth University poll, 38% of registered voters said they would support him. Murphy got 51%. Earlier this year, he trailed Murphy by more than 25 percentage points.
On Friday, Ciattarelli said the poll numbers even surprised him. He said he didn’t expect his race with Murphy to be so close at this point in his campaign. New Jersey’s high taxes are the reason, the Republican said.
Ciattarelli said he would “aggressively pursue” a different tax agreement with New York so that residents who work in Manhattan pay income tax in New Jersey. He also proposed cutting New Jersey’s corporate tax rate from 11% to 5% over six years and providing income-tax credits or relocation bonuses for residents who transfer their employment from New York to New Jersey.
“What I hope to do is create a thriving economy here in New Jersey, where people can find a good-paying job closer to home,” Ciattarelli said in a later interview on Bloomberg Radio.
He said he opposed New York’s plan to charge commuters a fee to drive into congested parts of Manhattan, which he called “a real finger in the eye to New Jerseyans.” For his part, Murphy has said he would fight to make sure New Jerseyans aren’t double-tolled and that his state get some of the proceeds.
Ciattarelli also was critical of Murphy’s borrowing of nearly $4 billion during the pandemic last year. The bonds are non-callable, meaning they can’t be paid off early, and have a 12-year term.
“Phil Murphy did make a full pension payment last year, but let’s not forget. I mean, he borrowed, in essence, to do it,” Ciattarelli said. “The one thing I’m never going to do is borrow to make a pension payment.”
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