University Public Residence Panel

University Hosts Third Public Servant-in-Residence Panel

The Office of the President and Department of Political Science and Sociology hosted the 19th Annual Public-Servant-In-Residence Panel discussing jobs, the economy, global competition, and New Jersey’s macroeconomy on Thursday, March 7. The event was the third out of four series panels moderated by former New Jersey Senator Joseph Kyrillos this the year. 

“I have two things when I think about the state’s economy: what happened and what’s happening. Back in the late 1980s, 64 percent of our people were employed. Today, it’s not quite 60 percent,” said Kyrillos.

The Annual Public-Servant-In-Residence program was created in 2000 to provide a venue for public officials to share their expertise with students and the campus community at the University. 

Previous Public Servants-in-Residence include former New Jersey Governors James Florio, Christine Todd Whitman, Richard Codey and Brendan Byrne, as well as former Chief Justices James Zazzali and Deborah Poritz.” The Public Servant-in-Residence program establishes students to leaders in communal systems that aid with assessing significant general affairs.

Kyrillos was joined by the following individuals: Joseph Taylor, former chairman and CEO of Panasonic North America; Christopher Maher, Chairman, CEO and President of OceanFirst Bank and a Monmouth University Trustee; Ryaotaro Tashiro, regional economic adviser of Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. 

“Property taxes, income taxes, corporate taxes [in New Jersey are] the third-highest combination of state and local taxes to percentage of income in the country,” said Kyrillos. “Governor Phil Murphy’s plan to add another tax and put a cap on economic incentives will hurt the state. Companies such as Panasonic would neither be here to begin with, nor stay here in the state, if it weren’t for the incentives.”

According to the Monmouth University Polling Institute, 45 percent of New Jersey citizens identified property taxes as the most important problem the state faces. “New Jersey residents don’t seem to have a clear read on Phil Murphy. A key question is whether the public feels he is truly focused on his current job. It wasn’t too long ago that the state felt burned by his predecessor’s political ambitions.  That’s worth keeping in mind as Murphy’s national profile with the Democratic Governors Association is on the rise,” said Patrick Murray, Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

A reported 46 percent of New Jersey citizens feel that Murphy is concentrating more on his political future than administering the state. 

Kyrillos also explained that New Jersey places third in the nation behind New York and Illinois with a gross income loss of $11 billion, resulting in a net loss of $3.5 billion. According to the Tax Foundation, New Jersey is also the worst state for economic markets.

“There are parts of New Jersey, such as Cape May and Atlantic counties, that are still struggling with unemployment. There has been a sharp decline of employment in the manufacturing sector, yet rapid growth in service-providing sectors. One thing we have to recognize is that there are pockets in the state that are still struggling, especially southern counties,” said Tashiro.

Maher believes emphasis should be placed on the health and transportation industry. Health care is the prime necessity, but he is also concerned about the transportation which takes away driving jobs for citizens.

“What we should think about is, ‘What are the things that can impact the New Jersey economy?’” said Maher. 

“Unemployment is a very nice and attractive number, but that unemployment number doesn’t show what’s under the surface. There’s a tremendous amount of underemployment, people (overqualified) for the positions they’re in,” said Taylor.

Kyrillos has spent a majority of his career in the Senate with a political background of 30 years. During his time, Kyrillos oversaw the Majority Conference and a committee on economic evolution. He also originally funded the NJ Business Employment Incentive Program and founded state’s Business Action Center and “Jobs 4 Jersey” program producing thousands of private-sector jobs.

“The goal of the Public Servant-in-Residence program is to introduce students to leaders in public service and to assist students in examining important public issues. The University has a public mission and it is programs like this one that connects the students to the world outside while being a valuable resource for the community,” said Paul Dement, the University’s Director of Government and Community Relations who helped organize the event. 

The final Public-Servant-In-Residence Panel will focus on ocean environmental issues, and take place in Wilson Auditorium on Friday, April 5.

PHOTO COURTESY of Anthony DePrimo