Call us: (609) 989-7888

Chamber in the News

On business policies, N.J. holds winning hand: Bet the house

The State HouseGovernor Christie is lowering taxes when other governors are raising theirs.

GOVERNOR Christie captured the attention of employers from coast to coast when he proposed a 10 percent across-the-board income tax reduction. The New Jersey governor is bucking a trend by proposing lower income taxes, while governors in Connecticut, New York and Illinois recently raised taxes — and the California governor is considering a hike.

"Now is the time to double down," Governor Christie said. "Now is the time to put the foot down harder on the accelerator and make New Jersey greatness a reality again."

New Jerseyans are aggressive by nature, so that's a challenge we can embrace. What better way to show employers everywhere we mean business than by reducing taxes across the board while some of our peer states move in the opposite direction? Further, the move benefits all in New Jersey – employers, employees, students, seniors and taxpayers in all brackets. Is there any better way to start, or increase, positive perceptions than to do something for everyone?

Even President Obama has proposed cutting taxes (albeit corporate taxes) as part of a larger tax reform initiative designed to stimulate investment, economic growth and increase our nation's competitiveness. The anticipated outcomes mirror those of our governor.

Christie's goal is not a secret. He wants to create jobs. More jobs would mean more income and more state revenue. It means expanding the tax base, not increasing the tax rate. It is a formula that will allow New Jersey to lead, not follow, the nation back to prosperity.

To generate jobs, Christie and the state business community must compel employers to pay attention to New Jersey. Thanks to the governor's profile and the national stage he commands, employers, in state and outside, are paying attention.

Once CEOs look at the Garden State, there is much to like: our talented workforce, our large and affluent customer base, our access to ports, our good infrastructure and our highly desirable location between Philadelphia and New York City.

Our disadvantage has long been our reputation as a high-cost, highly regulated state.

The Christie administration and the Legislature, lead by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, for the past two years have taken steps to reverse that reputation. Our leaders in Trenton passed consecutive state budgets that reduce spending and do not increase taxes. They achieved long-sought pension and benefits reform. They streamlined the state's development offices. And Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has been leading an effort to roll back regulations that have been notorious for blocking business expansion.

In January, the Legislature passed and the governor signed the Grow New Jersey bill that gives state tax credits to companies that make a capital investment of at least $20 million and retain or add a minimum of 100 full-time employees. Real estate experts say these new incentives will trump any other state's incentive program.

The changes are paying off.

New Jersey has added nearly 60,000 private-sector jobs over the past two years. And 2011 was the best year of job growth since the high-tech bubble ended in 2000.

Unemployment is down from 10.1 percent on the day Christie was sworn in to 9 percent today — still in need of improvement, but directionally correct.

Executives are expressing a higher sense of optimism about New Jersey's economy in 2012, according to recent surveys. Just look around. Companies like Asurion, Allergan, Bayer, Campbell's, Pearson, Pinnacle Food, MX Solar and Watson Pharmaceuticals have recently chosen to relocate or expand in the Garden State.

We still have a ways to go. Even with a 10 percent income tax cut, our tax rates in many brackets will remain higher than our neighbors — a factor that helped propel New Jersey into an era of low growth that is just now reversing.

What we are dealing with is direction, momentum and perception. All are on the rise in our state.

The administration, Legislature and the business community need to embrace these positives and work together to enhance them.

That's why Christie wants to double down.

We have a bold governor, and we have a strong Legislature, and both have proven they can collaborate. It is now up to us, the business community, to work with the Christie administration and the Legislature to execute this plan, to help "make New Jersey great again."

Let's not stall or squander our hard-fought gains by interjecting politics into the mix. We are on track for business growth and more job gains. Everyone wins in that scenario.