Power broker George Norcross tells Senate committee he didn’t profit from NJ tax incentives

Mike DeNardo
November 18, 2019 - 4:50 pm
George Norcross

Amy Newman/NorthJersey.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — At a raucous state Senate hearing, South Jersey political power broker George Norcross fought back against the notion that he profited from state tax incentives.  

But before he even sat down to testify, Bob Smith, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Economic Growth Strategies, ordered union demonstrators — some of whom were cheering, others booing — to be removed from the hearing chambers.

“I pointed out that that conduct is not going to be acceptable. That entire back line cheered, clapped. Officers, remove the entire back line that's standing up,” he ordered.

Several people were taken from the room while others chanted "shame." Norcross said he wanted to set the record straight after a governor's task force report said he benefited from state tax breaks.  

Norcross defended the need for tax incentives, saying they were necessary to get businesses to move into Camden.

“Nothing would have occurred in Camden without these tax incentive programs,” he argued. “No one was going to invest in a city where you could buy sex, drugs or get murdered in the same block.”

Norcross also said the task force was wrong when it said his firm, Conner Strong & Buckelew, decided to move its headquarters to Camden before the incentives were available.

“Another false claim is that $1.6 billion of the incentives awarded to Camden-based firms went to entities that I am somehow affiliated with,” he said. “We have paid millions and millions of dollars already to the city of Camden and to the EDA in fees as part of this program. So I think many would characterize this as, we're way underwater at the moment.”

Gov. Phil Murphy has backed a reform of the incentives, which expired in June.

Legislators are deciding whether to reauthorize the incentives.