Gubernatorial candidates on New Jersey’s economy

With 6 Democratic candidates and 5 Republican candidates in the Gubernatorial Primary, Phil Murphy (D) garnered 243,643 votes and Kim Guadagno (R) received 113,846 votes. Such suggested an early lead for Murphy, not surprising given the extremely low approval of Gov. Christie for whom Guadagno served as Lieutenant Governor. A Fox poll this week suggests that Murphy’s lead is now only 13%, whereas a poll seven days earlier by Quinnipiac provided a 25% lead.

Regardless of whether the Fox poll is unduly influenced by its Republican agenda, it does delineate an unsurprising ranking of voter issues. Taxes (34%) is the No. 1 issue, followed by the economy (13%), drugs and drug addiction (9%) and education and health care (both at 8%). The position of the two leading candidates on taxes was discussed here, so this article will deal with the two leading candidates’ appproaches to the economy.

There are stark differences between themWhile addressing business leaders Kim Guadagno said in June, “The only way to make sure businesses come here, grow here, stay here is to cut taxes,” Murphy responded, “I hope you reject the myth that lifting up employees and giving them a pathway to the middle class through higher wages, expanded educational opportunity and stronger workplace protections kills jobs. ‘It is simply not true. It’s a false choice.”

In their victory speeches Murphy positioned himself as a progressive change agent, “People all across New Jersey are demanding change, and I am here to change things,” and Guadano repeated her conservative pledge to shrink government, and said, “We will make New Jersey better for everyone together.”

PHIL MURPHY: On his website says, “The solutions to nearly all of our state’s problems are rooted in a stronger economy that works for the middle class out. When we get this right, we get New Jersey riight.” He has numerous broad objectives and is quite specific about what he will do:

  • Rebuild our cities through critical investments in transportation infrastructure;
  • Re-invest in higher education and community colleges to make them affordable;
  • Provide student loan relief for STEM employees and incentivizing employer matches;
  • Develop a STEM-oriented K-12 curriculum and expanding alternative pathways to success;
  • Expand small business incubators;
  • Raise the minimum wage, mandating earned sick leave, and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit;
  • Ensure equal pay for equal work;
  • Establish a child and dependent care tax credit;
  • Establish a public bank;
  • Update government technology to improve the “customer experience”; and
  • Systematically review all federal grants to fight for every federal dollar.

KiIM GUADAGNO: Her lead statement on her website is “Auditing Trenton. Lowering property taxes. Creating opportunity.” She served as Christie’s liaison to businesses and was charged with cutting red tape. She is less broad and specific about what she would do to grow jobs.

  • Become more military and veteran-friendly;
  • Promote travel and tourism;
  • Implement transportation solution;
  • Revitalize our urban areas to attract jobs and a young, educated workforce;
  • Invest in new technologies and start ups;
  • expand our state’s manufacturing base,

A NJ law allows candidates to provide a statement to assist the voters in making their determination among the candidates. The statements of the two candidates mirror the above positions. Below are the first few points the candidates make. (Their full statement, up to 500 words, is here.)

  • KIM GUADAGNO: “Before casting your ballot, ask yourself a few simple questions: Are you or members of your family paying too much in property taxes, which are the highest in the country? Is the government taking too much out of your paycheck without any noticeable difference in the services you receive, making living in New Jersey unaffordable? Do you believe that state government should be audited to ensure that your tax dollars are being spent efficiently and wisely? If you answered YES to any of these questions, I ask you to consider voting for me.”
  • PHIL MURPHY: “If we get our economy right, we get New Jersey right. Yet for eight painful years Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno have gotten it wrong. I am running for governor because NJ needs a stronger, fairer economy and I have a plan to get us there. …. Today, families in New Jersey are paying more and gettng less. That is not by accident, nor is the rest of America in the same shape. While median household incomes across the country grew from 2010 to 2015 New Jersey families saw their incomes fall. People are working harder yet making less money; that is simply unacceptable.

Under Christie’s philosophy of shrinking government and trying to lower taxes, our economy has lagged behind the nation. Kim Guadagno promises much the same. Phil Murphy offers a more progressive approach, decreasing income inequality with middle class programs toward which the wealthy contribute more. Perhaps, it’s as simple as Murphy’s “trickle up” vs. “Guadagno’s trickle down.”


See Blue Jersey’s series on ISSUES IN THE GUBERNATORIAL RACE: Where they stand on increasing the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, and gun background checks,  Would you prefer a NJ tax cut of $1.5 billion or a tax increase of $1.3 billion? and

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