Economic development incentives are making headlines again in New Jersey. Following a massive legislative overhaul of the state’s business subsidy programs last year, Good Jobs First predicted that the state would quickly lose control of spending through the expanded programs. It took less than a year for the state Economic Development Authority (EDA) to prove us right.
The (Bergen) Record revealed this weekend that under the new subsidy structure the EDA has awarded twice the amount of business incentives as it did during the first quarter of last year:
“The grants so far, awarded in the form of tax credits, totaled $355 million. That’s about $89 million a month, compared with about $36 million a month awarded under the state’s main incentive programs in the first nine months of 2013, authority data show. The state made about six awards a month under the revamped programs, nearly double the number in the first nine months of 2013.” (source)
Prior to the state’s business subsidies undergoing scrutiny as a result of the ongoing David Samson/Christie-Gate scandal, and even before the structural overhaul that has allowed the current subsidy surge, New Jersey was already facing criticism for its excessive spending on business incentives. During its first two and a half years, the Christie Administration awarded nearly $2 billion in tax incentives and grants.
All this spending has done little to help the state’s economy. New Jersey’s employment recovery rate lags behind the rest of the nation and reports that small business owners are still having trouble accessing Hurricane Sandy recovery funds are persistent. Unfortunately for residents, the Christie Administration has already demonstrated that doubling the state’s already ineffective business incentive spending isn’t likely to have much of an impact. Supersizing subsidy spending is no recipe for prosperity in the Garden State.