By Tom Bracken and Michele Siekerka, Opportunity NJ
Governor Murphy’s recent Budget Address painted an optimistic picture of New Jersey’s current financial health and future prospects, declaring victory on goals that included “restoring fiscal responsibility” and “delivering property tax relief” as if the work were already done. While we appreciate the Governor’s commitment to business growth, workforce development, and investments in infrastructure, making New Jersey a competitive regional powerhouse means forging a difficult path ahead — and this budget proposal won’t get us there.
We are already among the most overtaxed states in the nation. New Jersey businesses, large and small, are slow in recovering from the recession due the onerous taxes and mandates that have been piled upon them. Governor Murphy’s budget calls for a $2.1 billion increase in spending, a more than 17 percent hike over two years, and how will he pay for it all? By introducing still more taxes and fees, and putting even greater burdens on hard-working New Jerseyans.
To the uninitiated, the numbers quoted in Governor Murphy’s speech sound promising: an increase in the budget surplus, and rising numbers of high-propensity business applications. In reality, our surplus is still far below what it should be, and boasting about our business growth is like celebrating a two percent raise when your cost-of-living has increased five percent. The NJBIA’s 2020 Business Climate Analysis ranks us dead last in the region when considering such factors as corporate tax, sales tax, and property tax.
What we need is sensible reform that prompts economic growth without putting more strain on residents and businesses. Our Plan for an Affordable New Jersey, introduced last summer, calls for a moratorium on tax increases and government actions that penalize job creators and discourage job growth. It calls for incentives that will increase New Jersey’s competitiveness among its peer states, and a reform to tax policies that are pushing lifelong residents to find homes elsewhere. Just as importantly, it calls for prudent cost-cutting that will streamline our state government and make it more efficient.
There is a better way — a path to satisfy the state’s revenue needs, without putting additional burdens on the residents and businesses who are already here. We call upon the administration and the legislature to help us promote real job and business growth in the Garden State. This growth will bring revenue from which everyone will benefit.
To learn more about the Plan for an Affordable New Jersey and sign up for our newsletter, visit www.opportunitynj.org.