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Trenton Watch - July 1, 2014

Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the Business Community:

State Budget Fiscal Year 2015

The Governor used his veto pen to enact a $32.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year. Governor Christie cut over $1 billion in tax increases and spending while still making a $681 million payment to the state's pension fund. Additionally, the Governor took action on important initiatives championed by the business community, such as:

  • Continuing the job-creating business tax reforms which have saved companies a cumulative $1.6 billion. These reforms encourage businesses to remain and expand in New Jersey.
     
  • Vetoing a job-killing income tax hike and a surcharge on the corporate business tax that would have driven away businesses and successful New Jersey residents to surrounding states.
     
  • Eliminating the sales tax expansion on Urban Enterprise Zone businesses as well as the tax on electronic cigarettes. We acknowledge the leadership of Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and his members in taking these issues off the table.
     
  • Including online sales tax fairness provisions which will require online retailers to collect sales and use taxes from New Jersey purchasers. These provisions will level the playing field for brick-and-mortar stores physically located in New Jersey.
     
  • Increasing cancer research funding by $20 million. We acknowledge the leadership of Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Prieto and their members in maintaining this critical funding in the final budget.
Thumbs Down

Tax on Job Creators
A-3485 (Prieto/D-32; Greenwald/D-6)

The Governor issued an absolute veto on June 30. Raises the gross income tax rate on taxable income exceeding $1 million to 10.75 percent for a three-year-period. This income tax hike hits much more than high income earners -- it also affects everyone in New Jersey in a very direct way. When taxes are increased, it damages our ability to attract and retain businesses, eroding our tax base and ultimately providing employers a reason to flee our state.

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Thumbs Down

Surcharge on Corporate Business Taxes
A-3484 (Burzichelli/D-3)

The Governor issued an absolute veto on June 30. Imposes a one-year 15 percent surcharge on the Corporation Business Tax (CBT), raising the rate from 9 percent to 10.35 percent. Tax hikes damage the state's efforts to retain and recruit companies, making it more challenging to foster economic growth and enhance job creation.

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Economic Development
Thumbs Up

Moratorium on Non-Residential Fees
A-1907 (Burzichelli/D-3; Bramnick/R-21; Singleton/D-7; DeCroce, B. /R-26; Lampitt/D-6; Wimberly/D-35)

Senate passed 29-1; sent to Governor. Reinstates the moratorium on fees for non-residential construction projects that expired on July 1, 2013, and continues the moratorium through December 31, 2014. This bill sends a message that New Jersey is focused on enhancing economic growth, creating jobs and strengthening the economy.

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Labor
Thumbs Down

Worker's Compensation Attorney's Fees
S-374 (Scutari/D-22; Beck/R-11)

Senate passed 23-12. The bill seeks to amend the formula for calculating attorneys' fees to be awarded in workers compensation cases in a manner that discourages settlement and encourages parties to take cases that could be resolved outside the already overburdened judicial system to trial. The existing statute provides for fees based only on the portion of the judgment in excess of whatever compensation was promptly offered and paid to an employee. The proposed amendment would instead base the formula for attorney fees on the full amount of the recovery, regardless of how much of that recovery was achieved absent any attorney involvement, and would actually deduct that full amount from the employee's recovery. The existing formula fosters good public policy and encourages prompt, good faith payments to injured employees. The State Chamber recognizes and appreciates the work of the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute in this legislation. The NJCJI advocates for reforms that will ensure that New Jersey's civil justice system treats all parties fairly and discourages lawsuit abuse.

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Thumbs up and down indicates the Chamber's support or opposition to issues. Call the New Jersey Chamber Government Relations Department at (609) 989-7888 with questions or comments.