New York once again gets the best of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy | Mulshine
A hundred years ago, the great HL Mencken wrote that Manhattan is “a place fit only for the big business of making money.”
Now it also seems to lose that quality. New York newspapers report that many workers have still not returned to city offices. Meanwhile, in Monmouth County, rush hour trains to the city, once standing room only, now have many empty seats.
This raises a cross-state issue: Under New Jersey law, people who work in New Jersey would have to pay New Jersey income tax. New York argues that because the businesses are in New York, the tax money should go to New York.
It’s a worthwhile battle, said Declan O’Scanlon, the state senator who represents most of those towns in Monmouth County. He blames the most politically prominent resident of his neighborhood, former Wall Street commuter Phil Murphy.
“To not fight over this is to screw up New Jersey taxpayers on so many levels,” O’Scanlon said. “We know we’re never going to go back to the way things were. We’re never going to find people coming back five days away.”
He and his fellow Republicans raised this issue last week after the Record published an excellent article by journalist Colleen Wilson on a different battle with New York. Wilson followed a torturous email trail to show how New Yorkers once again outwitted New Jerseyans last year by not following what had been the traditional formula for allocating federal aid to the public transport.
Emails showed that after first insisting they would get ‘every dollar and penny’ owed to New Jersey under the formula, Murphy’s henchmen let New York take $850 million in relief COVID for transit which would have gone to us if the formula had been followed.
It’s water under the bridge now. But speaking of bridges, what about the one that connects Bergen County to Manhattan?
This is another sticking point in our eternal struggle against the predators of the aptly named Empire State.
New Yorkers plan to impose congestion pricing fees on vehicles entering Manhattan. But Jersey drivers are already paying high tolls for the privilege of entering Manhattan, either through the tunnels or the GW. Therefore, New York should not add additional fees, the administration argued.
But the Record story reported that New York Governor Kathy Hochul declined to give such assurance, saying “now is not the right time.”
It seems to Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho that there’s never a good time for New York to make concessions to New Jersey. Oroho reacted to this story with a statement that recalled these recent shark attacks off Long Island.
“New York is like a shark that goes around in circles and continues to nibble away at chunks of our finances, but instead of fighting back, the Murphy administration is stirring the waters through its weak New Jersey representation to invite additional attacks,” he said. Oroho writes. “Governor Murphy’s cumulative failures to defend the Garden State have already cost us billions of dollars. When will he finally develop a backbone with New York?
When I spoke to Oroho on the phone, he recalled the many years he used to commute between Sussex County and Manhattan for his financial work. He is happy to see his Jersey compatriots escape the grueling journey. But if they work here and use our services, they would have to pay taxes to the state that provides those services, he said.
“There are some people paying taxes in New York who probably haven’t been in New York for more than two weeks in the last two years,” Oroho said.
Oroho said that when discussing it with the administration, “They tell me. ‘Steve, it’s too complicated.’
It’s not complicated at all, Oroho said: New York should tell employers to deduct New Jersey taxes for remote work done in New Jersey.
“Why doesn’t he want to fight?” Oroho said of Murphy. “I hate to think his political aspirations come into play.”
I hate to think that too. But when it comes to public transit, Oroho raised another question that New Yorkers continue to be top of mind, the question of how to fund those planned rail tunnels across the Hudson River.
“Why are we fighting so hard to bring people to New York when someone who worked in New York and now works in New Jersey is a grand slam for our finances?” he asks.
O’Scanlon says there are many great locations for business in Monmouth County. One is the old Bell Labs building, where O’Scanlon has his legislative office.
“A workspace at Bell Works means more than just an office,” its website tells us. “Here you can escape from your office to play ping pong in our atrium, or find yourself on The Rooftop for a refreshing change of scenery.”
“It’s a really cool place to go to work,” O’Scanlon said.
Don’t tell New Yorkers.
These trains will be crowded to the south.
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