Controversy over state tax credits gets personal for Murphy, Norcross

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Controversy over state tax credits is getting personal between Gov. Phil Murphy and Democratic powerbroker George Norcross.

The controversy started after a state audit found that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the agency responsible for awarding tax credits to companies that created or retained jobs in the state, failed to determine if the right benchmarks were met.

Many of the companies that benefited from the tax breaks were connected to George Norcross, a New Jersey Democrat. These companies had relocated to Camden.

Camden’s waterfront is the epicenter of impact for these tax break programs. New Jersey American Water’s new headquarters is located on the waterfront. It received $164 million in tax breaks. Its lobbyist is George Norcross’s brother, Phil.

RELATED: Panel probing New Jersey’s tax credit programs holds 2nd hearing 

Insurance company Conner Strong & Buckelew, also connected to George Norcross, is getting a new tower with $245 million in tax breaks

Norcross blasted Murphy as politically incompetent and a liar during an interview. He also bashed first lady Tammy Murphy as behaving like the Queen of England. Murphy responded at an unrelated news conference in Trenton.

“Nobody works harder. [My wife] doesn’t get a dime for doing it, bless her heart,” Murphy said. “She’s a mother of four, by the way – just that pesky little detail. I’m incredibly proud of her.”

An investigation ordered by Murphy into how the tax credits were awarded is ongoing and has made one criminal referral. Norcross has said the more than $1 billion in tax breaks encouraging companies to move jobs to Camden are helping to rebuild Camden's future.

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