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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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