Overseas gubernatorial junkets are great for photos (but not much else)

By Matt Rooney
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Governor Phil Murphy is presently in the middle of a seven-day visit to India, Save Jerseyans. Two state senators (one from each party) are along for the ride. The first lady of New Jersey is there, too, and a New Jersey State Police detail is protecting Governor Murphy on the taxpayers’ dime.

Why?

It’s a fair question: what IS the point of this trip? And trips like it? U.S. governors can’t set foreign policy independent of Washington, D.C. Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution prohibits the states from entering into separate treaties with foreign powers (you can imagine the chaos which would inevitably ensue if they could). The alleged reason for Murphy’s India junket: encouraging Indian businesses to set up shop in New Jersey. Murphy tweeted at departure that he intended to “make the case for New Jersey as a leading investment choice for Indian companies, creating good jobs and boosting our economies.”

In reality, there’s scant evidence that these trips ever succeed in accomplishing their stated mission.

Chris Christie in Mexico (2014)

The trip itself (except for security – that’s paid for by you and me) is funded by Choose New Jersey, a non-profit funded by special interest groups with a vested interest in currying favor with the incumbent governor.

Some of the Choose New Jersey contributors have coincidentally (sarcasm alert) received generous tax breaks. You’re shocked, I know!

But it might even be palatable if the taxpayers got something out of it, too. Murphy’s recent trips to Israel and Germany resulted in… drum roll… “some brick and mortar and about a dozen new jobs” (h/t Matt Arco). Back in 2015, Fox Business took a state-by-state look at gubernatorial trade missions and, surprise surprise, few similar gubernatorial trips (including those of Murphy’s Republican predecessor Chris Christie) produced much in the way of new economic activity.

Then-Governor Christie took three trips in a single five-month period – to the U.K., Canada, and Mexico – at a cost of $124,000 to state taxpayers. Again, it’s entirely unclear what New Jersey’s economy gained from Christie’s taxpayer-subsidized vacations. If U.K. or Canadian firms have since invested significant cash in the Garden State from having heard a sales visit from Chris Christie? I’m unaware of it. Feel free to correct me if you can figure it out.

Get the joke yet? Special interests pay for the governor to have a cool trip and a nice photo opportunity.

That’s your answer to the “why” question hanging over these overseas expeditions, Save Jerseyans.

Now, if making New Jersey an attractive place to do business was GENUINELY Murphy’s concern, he could keep his butt at home and do something about our state’s notorious, devolving, toxic, worst-in-the-country business climate. The problem: no one hands out free international trips for doing the right thing. 

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Matt Rooney
About Matt Rooney 8533 Articles
MATT ROONEY is SaveJersey.com's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.