The start of fall is typically a busy season for business owners as they return from summer vacations rested and bursting with new strategies to draw in customers and improve their bottom lines. Let’s hope lawmakers return to Trenton with similar enthusiasm, because there’s a lot to do. Here are our positions on some of the high points:
Paid sick leave: The battle over this one may be a moot point if it winds up as a referendum issue, sort of like how the Legislature “overcame” Chris Christie’s veto of the minimum wage increase. But we hope that point can be avoided altogether by Trenton somehow recognizing the burden they’re putting on businesses with this proposal and walking away from it. While we’re at it, we hope we’re all using jetpacks to commute to work by this time next year.
Sports gaming: We’ve stated our position on this before. Betting on gaming to solve our revenue problems is a losing proposition. The market has a finite size, the state for now is unwilling to expand gaming’s geographic footprint, well-heeled sports leagues are boycotting the state and taking valuable events elsewhere, and every savior that’s going to save gambling — Revel, the Internet, airports, express trains, Boardwalk investments — has collapsed. Our meager resources would be better spent finding sustainable revenue sources, not hoping to finally overturn a Christie veto.
Film tax credit: When this was first suspended years ago, we used this space to point out how silly it was to cancel these credits. The issue has come and gone in recent years, but seems ready to rebound under a Ray Lesniak initiative, which would create set-asides for worthy New Jersey projects. This was an easy issue to scoff at when the EDA green-lighted the $420,000 “Snooki subsidy” to “Jersey Shore,” but New Jersey remains an attractive place to film — more so if it would allow the kinds of incentives that other states use to steal away shows such as “Boardwalk Empire.” Christie has never been a fan of this issue, but we hope he sees the likely return on a fairly small investment.
Beyond those, some areas we’d like to see Trenton devote some resources:
Hospital regulation: The state needs to figure out how to get its for-profit and nonprofit hospitals to play nicely to keep its health care house in some kind of order. That means uniform financial disclosures and more transparency for the for-profits.
Pension reform: Self-explanatory. The shortcut Christie took in the most recent budget highlights the need for a sustainably funded system that keeps its promises to workers who’ve been promised those benefits.
Transportation funding: It seems unlikely the Port Authority is going to pick up the tab on the next Pulaski Skyway rebuild. Does the Legislature — let alone Christie — have the guts to raise the gas tax?
We don’t expect all of these issues to be handled. But here’s hoping at least some of them will get some attention. It’s time for Trenton to get back to work.