National Roundup 05-08: No Tax Break for Kushner Towers, Jersey City Mayor Fulop Says; 10 Shot at Chicago Vigil for Shooting Victim
The following is a round-up of national news from several major states across the country that will be featured on our site on a daily basis:
No Tax Break for Kushner Towers, Fulop says: A long-term city tax break sought by a company with ties to Jared Kushner, son-in-law and adviser to President Trump, will not be supported by the city, Mayor Steve Fulop announced this weekend.
Fulop, who made the announcement on his social media accounts yesterday, said the request for a tax abatement for the twin-tower One Journal Square project “doesn’t work for us.” The developers are a partnership of Kushner Companies, once headed by Kushner; KABR Group; and WeWork.
The news came on the heels of reports in The New York Times and Washington Post that Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, was in Beijing on Saturday seeking wealthy Chinese investors to help fund One Journal Square, using Kushner’s ties to Trump and the controversial EB-5 visa program as enticements.
It’s not clear if the city’s decision to withhold a tax break will doom the project, slated for a vacant lot adjacent to the Journal Square PATH hub. In the past city officials and developers have argued that tax abatements are necessary to obtain financing for large-scale projects like One Journal Square, which would house a total of 1,725 luxury apartments. Fulop said the developers submitted their application for the tax abatement last week. One of the towers has already received two sets of tax credits from New Jersey totaling $93 million. Construction is expected to start by next year. [Jersey Journal]
Josh Gottheimer, Freshman Democrat Wants Centrists to be Force in Congress: Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a freshman Democrat from one of New Jersey’s most conservative districts, says he’s on a mission to neutralize the ideologues in Congress.
He got an early taste of victory last week, when President Trump signed a $1 trillion spending bill that averted a government shutdown. The plan includes a $15 billion increase in military spending and an additional $1.5 billion for border security — but no money for the wall Trump wants to build on the U.S.-Mexico border. And it doesn’t cut funding for Planned Parenthood or sanctuary cities, as some on the right wanted.
With 35 members or so from swing districts across the country, the Problem Solvers Caucus can be an effective counterweight to forces on both the far right and left, Gottheimer said. He leads the group along with Rep. Tom Reed, a New York Republican.
The Problem Solvers Caucus, which is closely aligned with the group No Labels, takes a position on issues if 75 percent of members agree and as long as most Democrats and most Republicans are onboard. The continuing resolution to fund the government through September was the group’s first real test, Gottheimer said. [Observer]
10 Shot, 2 Fatally, at Chicago Vigil for Shooting Victim as Gang Violence Soars: Early Sunday morning, 26-year-old Daniel Cardova was fatally gunned down in the Brighton Park neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side by two people carrying rifles in what Chicago police First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro called “a gang-related murder.”
Later that afternoon, a small crowd gathered for a makeshift vigil honoring Cardova. They brought liquor bottles, candles and a heart-shaped balloon to build a memorial to the young man, the Chicago Tribune reported. But the violence didn’t stop. Bullets ripped through the vigil crowd at roughly 5:20 p.m., injuring eight and killing two. One of the deceased was a man in his mid-20s, and the other a woman of unknown age, police told the Chicago Tribune.
Other victims ranged in age from 18 to 31 years old. Four were reported to be in serious condition as of early Monday morning.
Navarro called the incident “another brazen act of gang violence in the streets of Chicago” during a news conference Sunday evening. “The people shot were participating in a memorial for a subject that was murdered earlier in the day, and during this memorial, two subjects came out of an alley east of the location … and opened fire with rifles,” Navarro said. [Washington Post]
Mayor Emanuel Posts EPA’s Deleted Climate Change Page: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s response to the Trump administration pulling down its website detailing information about climate change: putting up his own.
The new section of the City of Chicago’s website, launched this weekend, pulls data from the archived Environmental Protection Agency page, noting, “while this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it.” Emanuel is promising to build the site out more in the coming weeks, using city resources.
“The Trump administration can attempt to erase decades of work from scientists and federal employees on the reality of climate change, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t erase the problem,” Emanuel said.
Last week, the EPA scrapped the climate-change website. “We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt,” a message on the “page is being updated” EPA site has read since. [Politico]
Trump’s Tax Plan Could Bring Business, Investors to South Florida: As a state with no individual income tax, Florida could become increasingly attractive to high-income taxpayers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Illinois. While the highest federal tax bracket of 39.6 percent would be lowered to 35 percent, federal tax deductions for state and local levies would disappear under Trump’s tax plan.
While Trump’s proposal faces a mighty battle in Congress, that element of the plan would be a boon for Florida, accelerating corporate relocations and moves by high-net worth individuals to states like Florida and Texas that have no individual income tax, some tax and economic development experts say.
“Our state structure has always been the best incentive we have,” said Bob Swindell, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, the economic development organization for Broward. The Alliance is setting aside funds for an enhanced advertising campaign should the Trump plan survive Congress.
Florida is already a place where high-net worth individuals including retirees and professional athletes relocate to reduce their tax bites. The Sunshine State was one of 10 states with the biggest jumps in the top 1 percent of wealthy individuals between 2009 and 2013, according to a 2016 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank. Broward will set its sights on potential company relocations from California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — all states with high tax rates. “Those would be the key states I would have on my immediate radar,” Swindell said. [Sun Sentinel]