Seven steps to stronger economy in 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned on creating a “stronger and fairer” economy.

Since taking office, the governor and the Legislature have shown an energetic commitment in expediting initiatives for the fairer economy such as mandated paid sick leave, equal pay laws and the upcoming minimum wage increase. The components of the desired fairer economy are in place.

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New Jersey Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Bracken.

A substantial portion of the cost for these initiatives were borne by the business community, including increases in the corporation business tax, the tax on deemed repatriated dividends, the combined reporting mandate and the multimillionaire’s tax — all done at a time when the Tax Foundation had already ranked New Jersey’s business tax climate dead last in the nation.

These tax increases have compounded our significant issues of affordability and business competitiveness.

It is time now for the governor and the Legislature to focus on building the stronger economy with the same urgency, energy and commitment that was applied to the fairer economy in 2018.

This focus requires more attention be paid to our business community, its present state, its challenges and its needs.

New Jersey needs to be more affordable and more competitive; additional tax increases and mandates will not get us there. They must stop.

If we don’t begin serious and diligent efforts in the new year to build the robust economy we all need and want, the fairer economy will suffer and we will fall further behind in our efforts to rebuild our state’s economic power.

We strongly urge the governor and the Legislature to begin formulating and implementing plans so we can achieve an economic rebound.

There are substantive and dramatic actions we can take right away. Some of these ideas are included in Murphy’s Economic Master Plan and in Senate President Steve Sweeney’s Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup report on reducing the cost of government:

  1. Take the billions of dollars of tax incentives that were offered to Amazon and make them available to small and medium-sized companies already in New Jersey;
  2. Implement a capital gains tax to support the innovation economy;
  3. Expedite the release of the monies in the Transportation Trust Fund to improve and build roads, bridges and mass transit — this also creates jobs and stimulates economic growth;
  4. Implement recommendations from the Healey-Byrne report to reduce the swelling economic burden caused by the state’s ongoing pension funding issues;
  5. Address the growing cost of government at all levels in New Jersey;
  6. Hold our congressional representatives more accountable for getting additional net funding dollars from the federal government to relieve some of the pressures on our state budget; also be sure they are unified and focused on the Gateway Tunnel and Portal Bridge issues;
  7. Focus more heavily on workforce development initiatives — we need the nation’s best trained and most highly qualified workers to have a competitive economy.

In 2019, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and other advocacy associations, through our coalition, Opportunity NJ, will make a series of recommendations that we believe can be implemented in the short term and that can lead us to a more robust and vigorous economy.

There is no dearth of good ideas that can help New Jersey prosper.

We need to put all the ideas on the table and create a plan that is doable. We need to implement this plan and we need to do it now.

Tom Bracken is the CEO and president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.