Cory Booker on Budget & Economy

Mayor of Newark; N.J. Senator; 2020 presidential contender (withdrawn)


2010 recession: sold city buildings and raised city taxes

For most of Booker's years as mayor, municipal budgets relied on multimillion-dollar state bailouts to close deficits. In 2010, as Christie cut municipal aid and the recession savaged the nation's poorest cities, Booker sold and leased back sixteen city-owned buildings, raised property taxes sixteen percent, and eliminated one out of four jobs on the payroll.

But in a communication age, when even local news traveled across the globe in an instant, what happened in Newark stayed in Newark--unless Booker tweeted it. Flooding the media universe with his tales of heroism and hope--he posted them on Facebook and Twitter, recounted them on television talk shows, recycled them in speeches all over the country--he effectively washed away downbeat news. Outside Newark, no matter where people looked, they found only the narrative according to Booker.

Source: The Prize, by Dale Russakoff, p. 88 , Aug 2, 2016

We will not be able to cut our way out of the jobs crisis

While the economy has started to come back, good-paying jobs didn't come back. Washington, however, doesn't seem to get it. We will not be able to cut our way out of the jobs crisis. The defeat of many aspects of President Obama's jobs plan, on the basis that it meant a short-term spending bump, is emblematic of Congress's inability to reconcile smart spending and investment now with long-term deficit reduction efforts that will help ensure our economic prosperity.

We must act to empower those who are suffering now, removing roadblocks that prevent them and their families from getting back on their feet. Doing that is about more than simply protecting the most vulnerable or those at risk of falling from the middle class into poverty. It means providing help to people who are likely to spend the extra money they have in their paychecks every month--a hand up that will create benefits throughout the economy.

Source: 2013-2014 New Jersey Senate campaign web CoryBooker.com , Nov 3, 2013

Paying your fair share isn't class warfare, it's patriotism

Our platform calls for significant cuts in federal spending. Our platform calls for a balanced deficit reduction plan where the wealthy pay their fair share.

This platform is a clear choice between economic pathways: forward or back, inclusion or exclusion, grow together as a nation or be a country of savage disparities that favor the fortunate few over the greatest driving force of any economy--a large and robust middle class.

And when your country is in a costly war, with our soldiers sacrificing abroad and our nation facing a debt crisis at home, being asked to pay your fair share isn't class warfare--it's patriotism.

We choose forward. We choose inclusion. We choose growing together. We choose American economic might and muscle, standing strong on the bedrock of the American ideal: a strong, empowered and ever-growing middle class.

Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 4, 2012

Endorsed Gov. Christie's property tax agenda

The tide turned when Newark mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat friendly with Christie, gave the governor's plan his backing. Booker, a rising political star seen as a top Democratic prospect to run for governor or US Senate, formally endorsed Christie's property tax agenda at a news conference on June 21, 2010.

Still, nothing had passed by the time the legislature approved the state budget in late June--typically, the time when its summer recess begins. Christie instead ordered the legislature into a special session to address property tax reform.

The first municipal spending cap votes were held in April 2011, though few municipalities--only 14 of the state's 566 cities and towns--sought voters' permission to exceed the 2% cap. Christie's plan had worked.

Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p.198-199 , Jun 5, 2012

Replace spending with tax incentives to stimulate hiring

"The federal government needs to cut spending," Booker said before a packed room at Saint Anselm College. [He cited former Sen. Jack Kemp, R-NY]: "It's because we shared the same ideas. Kemp believed that if you give the right tax incentives in urban areas, you create opportunity."

Booker said Obama is introducing policies similar to Kemp's, such as tax incentives for businesses that reinvest in the economy. "Over the last 3-plus years [Obama] has cut taxes on small businesses 17 times," Booker said. "Giving businesses tax incentives to hire people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan; ideas that to me seem like every American, regardless of your party, should stand up and embrace."

Source: Speech at Saint Anselm College (New Hampshire) , Dec 9, 2011

Budget crisis: cut $60M in spending; cut municipal taxes

So much was said when our City, in the midst of a $180 million budget crisis, moved to take aggressive corrective action. After cutting spending by $60 million and increasing revenue in a like amount, our City still faced a budget crisis of monumental proportions with mounting personnel costs. We refused to tax our way out of this problem and did the unheard of thing. In 2007, thanks to Municipal Council support, we cut our municipal tax rate in order to absorb tax increases by the County and for the school district so that we could sustain the same overall tax rate for our citizens. We made the difficult decision to eliminate hundreds of job vacancies from the budget, offer buy outs for employees to voluntarily separate and ultimately lay off 65 employees. Local government cannot be about employment, it must be about efficiency, effectiveness, about delivering the best of services to residents and dedicated to creating business and employment opportunity for residents outside of government.
Source: 2008 State of the City Address , Feb 1, 2008

Performance-based budgeting with no tax increases