N.J. Chamber urges Murphy to unify, not divide

File photo New Jersey Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Bracken was among those who appeared.

In his inauguration address, Gov. Phil Murphy pledged to be the governor of “all 9 million who call our great state home.”

On Sunday, the governor signed the fiscal 2020 state budget while repeatedly asking those in the audience, “Whose side are you on?”

Clearly, by his comments Sunday, the governor has chosen a “side,” which represents only a portion of those 9 million people.

The governor’s comments have made worse the divisive atmosphere in Trenton, and that is only going to make it that much harder for us to focus on our most important goal — continuing to revitalize the state economy.

To make New Jersey’s state economy the prosperity engine it should be, we need strong, sustained leadership. Effective leadership brings people together, emphasizes teamwork and instills in people a passion for their own success and the success of their organization — in this case, the state of New Jersey.

This leadership must come from Gov. Murphy.

He is the only one in the position to bring together leaders from the state Legislature, the business community, nonprofits, labor and other organizations, all of whom want to see our state succeed and are pleading for the chance to help.

The governor has a chance to exercise that type of leadership right now.

On Sunday, the state’s economic incentive programs lapsed. The governor is at issue with leaders in the Legislature and the business community about how to continue or restructure them.

We need to come to the table and agree on a resolution quickly. New Jersey needs these incentive programs restored quickly if we are to compete with neighboring states for new business and new jobs.

A state without economic incentive programs is a state that has posted a “closed for business” sign, and New Jersey can ill afford that. Every day lost is another day we fall behind our competition.

Gov. Murphy, we need you to remember your inauguration statement and again become the leader of all of the state, not part of it.

We need you to unify us, not divide us.

You were elected to make New Jersey a business-friendly, competitive state where businesses want to stay and grow, where out-of-state businesses want to come and where all citizens can improve their lives.

Please start the process of unifying us so we can help you achieve those goals.

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