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Drop the millionaire's tax, and nurture the economy

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Thomas A. Bracken
Thomas A. Bracken - (New Jersey Chamber of Commerce)

We have a short-term budget problem in New Jersey but a much more serious long-term fiscal problem. We can debate solutions to both, but there is only one solution that has received unanimous support for bringing New Jersey back to economic health.

The unquestioned solution is job growth.

It is incumbent upon the Christie administration, the Legislature and the business community to foster an economic climate in New Jersey that encourages employers to stay here, grow here and expand here; and to attract companies outside of New Jersey to relocate here.

The resulting job growth will lead to an economic revival we need to make progress towards meeting the many obligations the state faces. Further, it would generate funds to resume investments in essential areas that will continue to make New Jersey a great place to live and work.

The Christie administration and the business community have worked, and continue to work, hard to stimulate job growth and establish a positive business environment in our state.

Our Legislature has passed some pro-business legislation. Most recently, a business tax credits bill known as EO13. However, it continues to negate that positive work by approving legislation that flies in the face of economic growth.

Mandates, such as paid family leave and automatic minimum wage increases, have reduced companies’ abilities to manage their businesses. Now several other mandates are being floated, such as paid sick leave and ban the box, which would further restrict effective company management in challenging economic times.

Looming perilously is a millionaire’s tax, which would crush any hope of New Jersey regaining economic prominence. This income tax surcharge hits the very people that create jobs, chases companies out of state and turns away companies looking to move into New Jersey.

NJBIZ newspaper opposed it in a June 1 editorial, saying “the saber-rattling over the millionaire’s tax is exactly the sort of thing that has CEOs and other decision makers leery of making a big commitment to the Garden State.”

The funny thing is Gov. Chris Christie is on record saying he would veto the income tax surcharge, so it has little chance of seeing the light of day. Still, leaders in the Legislature are banging the drum for it. Such talk advances a perception throughout the state and the nation that New Jersey is indifferent to the needs of employers. This perception would be difficult to overcome.

Our plea is that the politically motivated campaign for a millionaire’s tax be dropped immediately. Any “political” gain would be more than negated by the economic loss that would impact every citizen of the state.

Talk to the Business Community

The solution to job growth problems are embedded in the hundreds of thousands of businesses located in our state. Asking for input from the people that runs those businesses has huge benefits. Mandating solutions, without adequate input, is dangerous.

The Christie administration’s outreach to business, led by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, has been well received by the business community. The work of the state’s Red Tape Review Commission, chaired by Guadagno and fueled by input by the business community, has led to a significant improvement in the state’s regulatory system. This is an example of beneficial dialogue between government and business.

The Legislature needs to follow that lead, and begin convening business focus groups. Focus groups are necessary for legislators to learn the needs of their business constituents. It is the only sensible way to create a business environment within which New Jersey companies can grow and prosper.

If the New Jersey economy is going to flourish, let’s nurture the business community, not discourage it. The Christie administration has been pro-business and we have benefited from its strong advocacy. We need to get the Legislature on the same page so we can take advantage of the enormous resources our state can offer businesses, and achieve the economic prosperity that is within our reach.

Thomas A. Bracken became the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce's president and CEO in February of 2011, taking the reins of the state's business advocacy organization as it celebrated its 100th year.

Bracken is no stranger to the Chamber. The Skillman resident served as chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce's board of directors from 2005 to 2007, and has been involved with the Chamber for more than 30 years. He has four decades of experience in the banking and financial services industry, serving previously as president of TriState Capital Bank's New Jersey operation, and president and CEO of Sun Bancorp Inc. He also held executive positions with First Union Bank and Corestates Financial Corporation. He is a former chairman of the Economic Development Corporation of Trenton and a former chairman of the New Jersey Bankers Association.

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