Finding better way to do things, New Jersey Chamber unveils legislative priorities

As the Legislature returns this fall, our New Jersey Chamber of Commerce lobbying team will be back in the State House pushing for policies that will make New Jersey a better place to live and run a business.

And we are encouraged by recent developments in Trenton. It is clear that our state leaders are serious about improving the business climate and creating good-paying jobs.

The recipe is simple: Improve the business climate and the state economy will flourish.

Over the summer, Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders announced they are allowing a 2.5% surcharge on the state’s Corporate Business Tax to expire at the end of the year. They also changed the tax treatment of net operating losses and the income earned by international companies — making New Jersey more consistent and competitive with other states. All the while, the state adopted new policies to streamline the permitting process, paving the way for construction and redevelopment projects to get off the drawing boards and get shovels in the ground.

This is all good news, and New Jersey is being recognized for it.

CNBC ranked New Jersey as the most improved state, climbing 23 places to No. 19, in its annual Top States for Doing Business List.

It’s true, the state’s fiscal image has been burnished under Gov. Murphy and the current Legislature — with tax reforms, seven credit rating upgrades, a record budget surplus for the 2024 fiscal year and the third full state pension payment. But New Jersey still ranks 44th as the most expensive state in which to do business, and 48th for least business-friendly in a CNBC survey.

So, when members of the Legislature returns this fall, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce team will be walking across the street from our Trenton headquarters to the State House with recommendations to help further improve the business climate, create jobs and expand the state economy.

We are pressing the governor and legislative leaders to:

  • Replenish the state’s Unemployment Insurance Fund, as many states have done, instead of relying on payroll tax increases on employers to replenish it;
  • Create a significant grant fund that would provide working capital to entrepreneurs and business owners who are dealing with inflation, a credit crunch and the prospect of a recession;
  • Reenergize the state’s Government Efficiency and Regulatory Review Commission to identify inefficiencies and overly burdensome regulations that hurt businesses and stifle economic growth;
  • Ensure there are more public contract opportunities awarded to minority-owned businesses and more career opportunities for minority workers at all levels. We are partnering with diverse chambers of commerce on this priority;
  • Create an Economic Council that meets on a regular basis comprised of members of the business community, the state Legislature and the Governor’s Office to discuss economic issues, including workforce development initiatives that will help solve the acute job opening situation we are currently facing; and
  • Encourage continual civil discourse among politicians, government officials and all those debating policy, so that partisan disagreements do not stifle economic growth.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce serves as the voice of the business community in the State House, and we take our job seriously. We work every day to promote pro-growth policies.

We research ideas. We propose solutions. And we work with our leaders in the State House to institute practical change.

There is a quote by Thomas Edison, a founding member of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, that describes the work we do. Edison said: “There’s a way to do it better — find it.”

Let’s work together. And make New Jersey better.

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