No new taxes. The best job growth in a decade. All under Chris Christie’s leadership.
New Jersey was a broken state before Christie became governor, but now that he’s here and has made tough decisions, the state is on a more positive and fiscally sound path, a new television ad claims.
"Four balanced budgets in a row, with no new taxes for anyone. The best job growth in 12 years. Nearly 130,000 new private-sector jobs. Merit pay to reward New Jersey’s best teachers, and the most education funding ever," a narrator states as scenes of a gritty New Jersey and the aftermath of October’s Hurricane Sandy, play.
This fact-check looks strictly at the ad’s claims about balanced budgets, new taxes and job growth. Two of the claims are on target. We will fact-check the ad’s education-related claims Sunday.
The governor claims he balanced four budgets and he’s correct. But it’s hardly an accomplishment that distinguishes Christie from any other governor since state law requires a balanced spending plan.
No new taxes for anyone, however, is debatable.
During a 2011 town hall meeting in Evesham Township, Christie ruled out any tax increases, according to a fact sheet for the ad shared by Christie For Governor spokesman Kevin Roberts.
But other actions by the governor could be construed as raising taxes, experts have previously told PolitiFact New Jersey.
Although rates for income, sales and corporate business taxes have not gone up under Christie, Christie has cut funding to several tax credit programs that have the same effect as tax increases.
Here’s one example: New Jersey scaled back the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit -- which the state Treasury Department website said "reduces the amount of New Jersey tax you owe and may also give you a refund, even if you have no tax liability to New Jersey" -- in Christie’s first year in office.
Although rates didn’t increase, some homeowners and some low-income individuals received less money to offset tax bills – and that’s a type of increase, professors from the University of California Davis School of Law, and at The George Washington University, told us.
Bill Quinn, a Treasury Department spokesman, said at the time that "the Earned Income Tax Credit in most cases really represents a subsidy payment to low income citizens," pointing out that more than 76 percent of earned income tax credit recipients in 2010 owed no New Jersey tax.
Next, let’s review that claim about New Jersey having the best job growth in 12 years, amounting to about 130,000 new private-sector jobs.
The claim is accurate, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. New Jersey saw an inrease of 66,400 total payroll jobs from December 2011 through 2012. There is no other annual timeframe, measured from December to December, that had as high an increase in the previous 12 years, said Joseph J. Seneca, an economics professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
The state also had the best year-over-year increase in private-sector jobs from December 2011 to December 2012, at 59,100, he said. New Jersey also added 127,800 private sector jobs from February 2010 – Christie’s first full month in office -- through March 2013, Seneca said in an e-mail.
Seneca said Christie’s bipartisan efforts to control costs, not raise taxes and to reduce inefficiences that increase business costs all factor into New Jersey’s improving business climate.
A new ad by Christie for Governor claims that under the governor’s leadership, the state has had "four balanced budgets in a row, with no new taxes for anyone. The best job growth in 12 years. Nearly 130,000 new private-sector jobs. Merit pay to reward New Jersey’s best teachers, and the most education funding ever."
It’s true that Christie has balanced four budgets -- as required by state law, but some experts have told us that cuts in tax credit programs can be deemed tax increases.
In terms of job gains, the news is positive for year-over-year data, growth in the past decade and since Christie’s been in office. A Rutgers economist confirmed that some of Christie’s actions are responsible for those gains.
We rate these claims Mostly True.
Read Part 2 of our fact-check of this ad on Sunday.
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