How should government view business? 3 former N.J. govs share their thoughts

Business and government.

The interest of the two always appear to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Yet, there are also always accusations of favors or softer stances when donations and contributions are tracked.

How should government view business?

It was a question posed by moderator Kevin McArdle to three former governors, Chris Christie, Jim Florio and Jim McGreevey, at a Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey event Wednesday.

“There’s this impression that there’s a strained relationship often, between government and business, is that true?” McArdle asked.

Florio said it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

“For example, we have an opportunity now … offshore wind generation,” he said. “There is a business network associated with offshore wind that will bring manufacturing…this is something happening in New Jersey in a way that is going to bring manufacturing of wind turbines to New Jersey. There are good things we can do (when) there’s collaboration and cooperation.”

McGreevey agreed, saying it had to be a collaborative partnership, especially with government acting as a catalyst for public-private relationships.

“No business community, no governor, is going to be entirely enthralled about what each are doing because a governor justifiably has a different set of priorities, but there has to be an alignment,” McGreevey said.

Christie said there needs to be a healthy tension between the two sides.

“Because part of our job is to regulate you,” he said. “Now we can all debate about how much that should be, and that’s a healthy debate, but you’re supposed to be holding us to account for the things we are supposed to be providing to you … and we are supposed to be holding you to account to comply with the laws, treat your workers fairly and be responsible corporate citizens both in terms of paying your taxes and in terms of being philanthropic.”