(Bloomberg)—New York City’s congestion pricing proposal can’t be “on the backs of New Jersey commuters,” Governor Phil Murphy said.
“Whether it’s how we’re taxed by our neighbors or this proposal for a congestion-pricing scheme that would be a huge burden on commuters, we can’t have it both ways,” Murphy said Thursday in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power With David Westin.” “We still have great relations with our neighbors. We just want to make sure we’re standing up for our taxpayers and our commuters.”
Murphy also said he is confident New Jersey won’t have to put more taxpayer money into the American Dream megamall project in order for it to survive.
“I’m confident to say that I think this thing is turning the corner,” Murphy said. “I think at long last they are turning the corner. When you get there you can see how this thing is going to look when it’s successful. It has a long road but I think they’re getting there. I hope we don’t have to put more money in. Please, God. I’m hoping it can get there on its own two feet.”
American Dream mall owner Triple Five Group, the private company controlled by the Ghermezian family, was promised $390 million over 20 years in grants by New Jersey in a deal based on sales-tax collections. The state, though, has yet to start making the payments.
American Dream, 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Manhattan, was beset by construction and financial delays for years, and the pandemic struck just as it was to open. An electrical fire a year ago led to the eight-month closing of a signature attraction, an indoor ski slope, the only one of its kind in North America.
The mall in 2021 reported an almost $60 million loss, according to a three-page unaudited financial report. Triple Five earlier this year was seeking a four-year extension to repay $1.7 billion in construction financing. Last month, the American Dream missed an $8.4 million bond payment.
Murphy last week praised a bipartisan proposal to tax New York-based commuters who work in New Jersey. His home state loses billions of dollars a year on reimbursing New Jerseyans who pay New York taxes.
The legislation also would provide $10 million in incentives for companies to assign workers to New Jersey.
The proposal comes as New York City moves toward Manhattan congestion traffic pricing, with a proposed per-car toll of as much as $23. People driving from New Jersey pay tolls at three river crossings, and Murphy has said he would block any attempt to charge them twice.
About 400,000 New Jerseyans work in New York City and pay as much as $3.7 billion a year in New York taxes, according to US Representative Josh Gottheimer. They would save almost $20,000 each in taxes and commuting costs annually by staying in New Jersey, he said in May.
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