Phil Murphy's stance on Amazon Hint at a Move Towards the Moderate

By Amit Ganguly

Governor Phil Murphy attends a town hall at Rutgers in September. Source:  Daily Targum

Governor Phil Murphy attends a town hall at Rutgers in September. Source: Daily Targum

Departing from his campaign, Governor Phil Murphy, who in his first campaign advertisement attacked Kim Guadagno and the "Christie playbook" for "giving billions more in tax breaks for giant corporations", has indicated that he would be on board with a $7 billion tax subsidy to entice Amazon to choose Newark as the location of its second headquarters.

Such a move indicates that Governor Murphy might be willing to consider a more moderate approach on issues, especially as he faces the impact that the disastrous state of the budget will have on his campaign promises. Revenue from legalized recreational Marijuana could certainly help there, but it is unlikely to make up the entire difference, and there's no telling how long it could take.

Another place where a moderate approach might help Governor Murphy is at the federal level. Promises to fight President Trump's agenda on both immigration and taxation were a staple of his campaign, but such legal battles could end up as an extra cost to manage, as well as an extra challenge. While it is unlikely, given his fierce commitment to fighting President Trump while in office, that he will back down from his commitment to legal battles with the White House, it certainly prompts the question: how will he manage his promises? 

The answer? He probably won’t. 

With his support for the bid for Amazon, Gov. Murphy has also indicated his opposition to the state takeover of Atlantic City might not be so solid anymore. After repeatedly asserting that he would end said takeover while on campaign, on Wednesday, he said "I want to think much more in the sense of a partnership. And we will be a partner". Considering that these two issues are hardly the largest challenges or promises of his agenda, the fate of things like the fifteen dollar minimum wage, free community college for associates degrees, and (perhaps the most important for all of us at Rutgers) lower college tuition seems to be in peril. If Amazon and Atlantic City are indicative of a trend, Governor Murphy's promises on the campaign are likely to amount to a lot of talk, but no action when it comes to the costlier challenges of his administration. Rutgers President Robert Barchi summarized it well while addressing the Rutgers University Senate near the start of the spring semester: “A rock and a hard place doesn’t begin to describe the budget situation in the state ... If our new governor were to follow through with 25 percent of the things he says he’s going to do, we will be bankrupt.” Whether or not Gov. Murphy will manage to find the funds for his promises remains to be seen, but the outlook is grim, to say the least.