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Murphy fires back in war of words with Texas governor

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Gov. Phil Murphy delivering his Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Address in Trenton in March.
Gov. Phil Murphy delivering his Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Address in Trenton in March. - ()

Govs. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Greg Abbott of Texas are playing a serious game of Texas Hold'em, with the stakes being local businesses.

Murphy responded to a scathing editorial by Abbott that appeared Tuesday in New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper, the Star-Ledger. In it, Abbott openly encourages Garden State businesses to consider moving to Texas to avoid high taxes.

In his editorial, Abbott repeatedly takes shots at Murphy’s recent budget proposal, criticizing him for proposing to raise the state’s spending by $2.7 billion in fiscal year 2019, implementing a millionaires tax and raising the sales tax back to 7 percent.

“That's why I'd like to throw a lifeline to businesses and families throughout New Jersey who are looking for greater economic opportunity and relief from high taxes,” Abbott wrote. “Come to Texas and be a part of our economic success story. The first thing Garden Staters will notice when they come to our state is that unlike New Jersey, Texas does not have a state income tax. But it doesn't stop there. Since I was elected Governor, we have cut taxes in the Lone Star State by nearly $4 billion.”

Murphy did not take kindly to Abbott’s words. In an editorial of his own the next day in the Dallas Morning News, he fired back at Abbott, writing “I understand Texas pride. Heck, I respect that. But let's be clear, as governor of New Jersey, I won't let anyone get away with taking a cheap shot at my state.

“Even a cursory review of Texas' economy during Abbott's administration should give anyone – especially businesses – pause. Texas' ranking among state economies has plummeted. According to Governing magazine's last ranking, the Lone Star State fell from 3rd to 21st (New Jersey was 24th). Perhaps this is why he's desperately trying to poach jobs from other states, instead of growing the Texas economy organically through increased investments.”

Murphy also criticized Abbott for his stance on gun safety laws, and boasts New Jersey has half the violent crime rate of Texas.

“That may be a product of our belief in strong, common sense gun safety laws, in contrast to Abbott's reckless belief in allowing more concealed firearms. By the way, an investigative report by The Recordnewspaper found that in 2016, 45 guns used to commit crimes in New Jersey originated in Texas due to its lax gun laws.

“I'd like to invite Abbott to join our growing list of States for Gun Safety so we can make communities here and in the Lone Star State safer.”

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio

Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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Doof... April 23, 2018 8:31 am

Yes, and we will plan to move out in a few years, so now you lose taxation and and our spending and investing of 250K /1 household /yr for 15-20 years until we retire...sounds like a good sustainability plan NJ!!

Instead, attack the Bill of Rights and Constitution and give the kids free college even though your own reports record numbers of graduates leaving the state. Anyone ever hear of ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS????

John Calzaretto CPA JD April 23, 2018 8:43 am

Mr. Murphy's response is without merit. New Jersey has the worst fiscal condition of all the states; see the Georgetown University's Mercatus School of Business, Fiscal Condition rankings of the 50 states. NJ is the worst.

With tens of billions in debt, one of the most underfunded pension plans in the nation, 3 families leaving for every 2 moving in, an affordable housing crisis, incentive programs such as NJ Grow act costing $350,000 to $500,000 per job saved (only a small portion of new jobs are being created by this program) which program will cost substantial reductions to future tax revenue; I would suggest the last one out to please turn out the lights.

Ken April 20, 2018 10:20 am

"the Lone Star State fell from 3rd to 21st (New Jersey was 24th)." Either way, Texas is higher than NJ. Murphy just fueled Abbott's point, and should have kept his mouth shut on this statistic. As for gun laws, that and taxes are the two reasons I am planning on leaving NJ in the near future.

Doof... April 20, 2018 3:37 pm

Living paycheck to paycheck with almost 200K annual home income in NJ and barley living it up...was doing just fine in WI living on 75K doing all we wanted!!

This is exactly the problem, too many taxes and not enough representation!!

Then on top of it govt. proud of the draconian gun laws...can we just get a little more freedom??

WillK April 19, 2018 3:40 pm

I love how Murphy couldn't even defend the fact that he intends on raising taxes and screwing over NJ citizens and business owners. Then he attacks Abbott on Texas' more Constitutional gun laws. Murphy is oh so willing to pile deeper regulations upon the backs of law abiding gun owners in New Jersey and has no plan on dealing with the criminal gang-bangers and the recidivism in NJ. I fear NJ going down in flames over the next 4 years because of Murphy and his ridiculous polices.

Bob April 19, 2018 3:47 pm

Hey, Murphy, the truth hurts. NJ is on the wrong side of the tax debate. Middle to high income earners are fleeing NJ like its on fire. And businesses considering staying in NJ demand massive (tax payer funded) subsidies to stay, and their middle and senior managers all know the place to live, if their companies do remain in NJ, is Pennsylvania - 3.07% flat tax. There is no comparison.

manfred Mann April 19, 2018 3:53 pm

Abbot is correct. Given a choice between diversity or affordability, I'll take affordability.

Dimitri April 19, 2018 3:58 pm

I'm sorry Mr. Murphy, but it's all true. NJ is going down the toilet because of the left wing agenda of taking Other People's Money. The public sector unions and the politicians are devouring the state. The majority of the tax payer citizens are paying for the politicians to stay in power and to pay for the public sector employee's benefits and pensions. What does the taxpayer citizen get? Poorer and they are being forced to leave the state. YOU are helping to chase them out with your "fund it all" "spend it all" policies. Remember folks. The money has to come from someone/somewhere and that's the taxpayer.