Murphy, Guadagno jab each other over economy, cost of plans

WAYNE, N.J. (AP) — The top two party candidates in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race disagreed in their final debate Wednesday over how to address the state’s property tax, and walloped each other on the GOP’s handling of the state’s economy and the Democratic candidate’s plan to pay for his promises.

Democrat Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno clashed for an hour at William Paterson University in a debate broadcast on CBS stations New York and Philadelphia just weeks ahead of the Nov. 7 election. Their faceoff came a day before former President Barack Obama campaigns with Murphy.

A memorable exchange unfolded after Guadagno asked Murphy how he planned to pay for a number of promises he’s made, including fully funding the state pension, increasing school aid and providing tuition-free community college.

Murphy began by saying that Guadagno wasn’t using true figures in her cost estimates. Then a member of the audience shouted “Answer the question.”

Murphy responded he couldn’t hear what was said, so Guadagno repeated it for him. “Answer the question, was the shout,” she said.

The moderators then cut off the conversation because of the interruptions, but Murphy responded with his own question.

“You’ve taken care of hedge funds, big corporations and the wealthiest among us,” he said. “You’ve been at Chris Christie’s side for 2,829 days . I’d like to know where have you been.”

Guadagno said she’s disagreed with the unpopular Republican governor in private, and attacked Murphy for how costly his promises are. He’s estimated they’d require $1.3 billion in new revenues.

“All of these promises, all of these fantasies, all of these entitlements, it’s going to come from your pocket,” Guadagno said.



Murphy offered a more detailed opinion on his plan to address property taxes — the country’s highest — which averaged more than $8,500 in 2016. He said his promise to fully fund a state education formula, estimated to cost about $1 billion per year, would help lower rates. Property taxes are largely driven by local education costs.

Guadagno’s plan would cap the school portion of property taxes at 5 percent of income, up to $3,000. She said the average resident would see $800 in savings and said she would pay for her plan by an audit of state finances.



Guadagno backs a plan proposed by Christie to use billions of dollars in tax incentives to attract Amazon, which is looking for a location to put a second headquarters.

Murphy said he wants to attract Amazon, which says it will bring 50,000 jobs to the new site, but “on the right terms.” He didn’t explicitly reject or back Christie’s plan.



Murphy declined to answer whether Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez should resign if he’s convicted in the federal corruption trial that is underway. Menendez has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty. “I’m not gonna speculate,” he said.

Guadagno said “absolutely” he should resign and that she wouldn’t appoint Christie if the senator’s seat became open while she was governor.



In a lightning round of questions, both candidates were asked their favorite fruit and vegetable. Murphy answered grapefruit and broccoli. Guadagno said Jersey tomatoes and cranberries.


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