This November’s election for governor is a critical crossroad for New Jersey. In order to become more business friendly, affordable and stem the loss of jobs and residents to our neighboring states, New Jersey needs to accelerate our economic progress. On September 18, join hundreds of NJ businesses to help shape a new Affordability Agenda for all New Jerseyans at the first-ever Affordability Summit. Learn more or register.
This November’s election for governor is a critical crossroad for New Jersey. In order to become more business friendly, affordable and stem the loss of jobs and residents to our neighboring states, New Jersey needs to accelerate our economic progress.
This starts by bringing together business leaders from around the state to craft a platform and smart policies to aide in our growth. Opportunity NJ wants to make sure the major party candidates for Governor, as well as all candidates running for our Senate and Assembly in both parties support common sense fiscal policies that help grow New Jersey’s economy.
We need your help.
On Monday September 18th, join hundreds of New Jersey businesses to help shape a new Affordability Agenda for all New Jerseyans at the first-ever “Affordability Summit.” The event will take place at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset. Registration will begin at 8 a.m.
You will have the chance to hear from some very prominent speakers and be part of the discussions about how our state leaders should address the key issues still facing our state. There is much to be done if we are going to secure the economic health of our state. There is no more important time to do this than now.
To register, click here or call Opportunity New Jersey at 609-393-6998. To help offset the cost of the event, there is a $50 registration fee.
We look forward to seeing you there.
The only way to stem our tide of outmigration is to bring our economic policies in line with our direct regional competitors — Pennsylvania and New York
New Jersey has many positive attributes. We added almost 60,000 jobs in 2016, the state’s largest gain since 2000, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. We have among the best K-12 public education systems in the nation and a highly skilled workforce including the highest concentration of scientists and engineers in the world — more than 225,000 statewide.
New Jersey also has a strong transportation network. We are home to the Port of New York and New Jersey, the third largest seaport in North America and the largest and busiest maritime cargo center on the East Coast. And we are among the national leaders in logistics and distribution. New Jersey is also a great recreation state with more than 130 miles of shoreline, beautiful parks, and mountains.
Despite these great assets, New Jersey remains a significant outlier, both nationally and regionally when comparing competitiveness and affordability including our state’s high cost of living and its heavy tax burden. New Jersey’s border states, Pennsylvania and New York, continue to be the No. 1 and No. 2 outmigration states for New Jersey residents and are challenging our competitiveness.
To reverse this trend we must examine our policies on taxation, revenue generation, and spending, and we must do so through the filter of competitiveness and affordability.
Outmigration by the numbers
In February 2016, the NJBIA issued Outmigration by the Numbers: How do we Stop the Exodus? This report found that New Jersey lost $18 billion in net-adjusted gross income over a decade. We have now updated this data to include 2015 data and have learned the loss has since grown to nearly $21 billion over 11 years (2004-2005 through 2014-2015). Further, we found the largest outmigration group continues to be millennials followed second by those nearing retirement and retirees.
Last November, New Jersey took the first step in the long road toward comprehensive tax reform by phasing out the estate tax and sharply increasing the income tax exclusion for pension and retirement income. The estate tax elimination and the pension tax reduction should help stem the outmigration of seniors and small businesses. While this is a good start, there is much more that must be done.
New Jersey ranks in the bottom six of every single tax category — income, property, sales, corporate, and inheritance. And we are in the bottom 10 of all states in combined state and local debt. Further, New Jersey residents pay the fifth-highest percentage of their household income on rent of any state and pay the fourth-highest median monthly rent of any state.
New Jersey’s top income tax rate is 8.97 percent and ranks as the sixth highest in the country. Our neighbors to the north and the west offer a better income tax rate than we do, with New York’s top income tax rate at 8.82 percent and Pennsylvania’s income tax rate flat at 3.07 percent.
Out-of-control property taxes
New Jersey has an average property tax bill of $8,549 and collects $2,924 per capita in property taxes, both of which are the highest in the nation. New York at $2,435 and Pennsylvania at $1,338 per capita are considerably lower than New Jersey, as is the national per capita of $1,300.
New Jersey has the fifth-highest corporate income tax (9 percent) in the nation. New York ranks 24th, offering a lower corporate tax rate of 6.5 percent. While Pennsylvania has a higher corporate income tax rate at 9.9 percent, it has a much more favorable personal income, property, and inheritance tax climate that offsets this tax impact.
While New Jersey is in the process of eliminating the estate tax by 2018, we still have an inheritance tax. Only five other states — Nebraska, Kentucky, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Maryland — even have an inheritance tax. Further, while Pennsylvania has an inheritance tax, the state mitigates the impact of this tax on small businesses.
New Jersey’s debt picture is no different than its tax climate. We are near the bottom of the national rankings in every debt category. Overall, as of June 30, 2015 the state had more than $153 billion in bonded and nonbonded indebtedness according to the fiscal year 2015 state debt report.
The state’s high level of debt and the need to generate revenue to pay off the debt is a major factor that affects the ability to lower the state’s tax burden to improve the level of affordability for individuals, families, and businesses. However, we can no longer increase our tax burden in order to raise revenue to pay down this enormous debt. This would only make New Jersey even less competitive and would surely feed into an exit strategy for New Jersey businesses and residents.
The time is now to revisit and completely review our economic policies on taxation, revenue generation, and spending and we must do so with a sense of urgency. We must look at how we spend our tax dollars and be honest about the fact that our current economic paradigm is just not sustainable. Failing to do so now will compound the problem for the generations to come.
The only way to stem our tide of outmigration is to bring our economic policies in line with our direct regional competitors — Pennsylvania and New York. Becoming more competitive means becoming more affordable so that businesses will want to locate here and taxpayers will want to live here.
N.J. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Bracken Responds to:
- Sweeney-Sarlo Millionaire’s Tax Proposal
- Better Choices for New Jersey Coalition’s Call for Enhanced Taxes on the Business Community
The future of our state is contingent upon growth – growth in people, jobs and business. The revenue coming from that growth will provide funding for the many significant fiscally constrained issues we currently face.
To accomplish growth, we need to make our state more affordable and more competitive. We are facing a crisis in both of these areas. Every proposal coming from our Legislature or administration should pass through the lens of enhancing affordability and making our state more attractive to business. We simply cannot afford to do anything else.
The recent proposal from Sens. Sweeney and Sarlo on a millionaire’s tax to provide for school funding, and the proposal from Better Choices for New Jersey coalition to dramatically alter taxation of the business community conflict greatly with the concepts of affordability and competitiveness, and, if implemented, would construct huge barriers to our state’s ability to grow.
We have many issues in our state, but there are solutions to all of them. The challenge is addressing the solutions in the right way. Through face-to-face meetings of all impacted parties, and through candid, constructive and civil discussions, we can come to resolutions that everybody can embrace. This will necessitate compromise from everyone involved but it is the only way to move our state forward in a positive direction, and begin to achieve the enormous potential we have.
Let’s stop the self-motivated, parochial proposals that only divide our state even more, and begin to unite it in a unified effort to make our state a better, more affordable, more attractive place for everyone to have the opportunity to enhance their work-life experience.
In partnership with the New Jersey Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce, co-chairs Tom Bracken and Michele Siekerka will present ONJ’s efforts to build consensus around policies that will make New Jersey affordable. The dinner-networking event will be held at The Edison Hotel on Woodbridge Avenue.
Local chamber of commerce officials from Middlesex County – including Edison, Woodbridge, and the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce – converged on the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel on April 7 for a presentation by Opportunity NJ (ONJ). Co-chairs Tom Bracken, of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and Michele Siekerka, of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, expressed the need for non-traditional allies to come together to reinvent policy making in the Garden State.
The ONJ co-chairs underscored that state legislators, the Governor’s office, the business community and third party interests need to work together on public policy solutions in order to address affordability issues faced in New Jersey. The topic of affordability was particularly germane in view of the recent property tax study released by RealtyTrac.com and presented in an interactive format (Click here for the property tax map). The study found that the average tax bill to New Jersey families is $8,549, while the state maintains the distinction of having the highest tax rate in the nation at 2.31%.
Tax Reform was cited as an essential part of the solution to affordability concerns in the state. Bracken and Siekerka also noted that three other critical platforms included Infrastructure Investment, Workforce Development and Jobs and Regulation Reform.
ONJ is continuing to present before business and community forums throughout New Jersey – contact us to invite ONJ to an event near you.
On January 9, Opportunity NJ (ONJ) Co-Chairs Tom Bracken and Michele Siekerka will be featured on the LBI Region Report, sponsored by the Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce. Tom and Michele discussed Opportunity NJ and promoted the January 12 ONJ Breakfast in Manahawkin hosted by the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce, Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce, Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, and the Brick Township Chamber of Commerce. The show is hosted by Billy Clanton and Lori Pepenella (CEO of the Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce). While the show airs on Monday January 9 on WBNJ, the radio station has posted the interview on its website before the airdate.
Take some time to listen to the interview and join us in Manahawkin for the ONJ Breakfast on Thursday January 12.
Introducing Michael – a corporate executive turned entrepreneur. He brings a unique perspective on managing a business and living in New Jersey. For the past six years, he has been building his client base and maintaining sustainable levels of profitability. His company, Big Green Group (located in Chester, Morris County, NJ), specializes in wireless services, broadband construction services, enterprise & government solutions, and HVAC services. In this case study, we will learn about challenges posed by taxes, the regulatory environment and how those challenges impact his decision-making. Additionally, Michael opens-up regarding the challenges of African-American, women, and minority-owned businesses.
Meet Amy – a woman business owner who took great pride in being engaged in every facet of her restaurant, the Milford Oyster House (located in Milford, Hunterdon County, NJ). Amy and her staff ensured every dish was meticulously and lovingly prepared for each guest. Amy wanted her guests to feel as if they received a “warm culinary hug” after a dining experience in her establishment. In recent years, she recognized the difficulty of complying with onerous regulations and providing an economic engine for her community. After twenty years, Amy decided to reluctantly sell her livelihood to new owners due to the inhospitable business climate in the Garden State. In this series, we will get to know Amy and her challenges, both practical and emotional, as a small business owner. Most importantly, we will address New Jersey’s most pressing public policy issues and generate solutions to make New Jersey affordable.
Earlier this month, a complex, but much needed transportation and infrastructure funding plan was approved and signed into law. We applaud the leadership of Governor Christie, Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Prieto, Leaders Bramnick and Greenwald, as well as bill sponsors Senator Sarlo and Senator Oroho for delivering the infrastructure funding and comprehensive tax relief that is much needed to keep our state competitive.
We thank those members of the legislature who voted in favor of these measurers, who in doing so, exhibited courage and a concern for the future of our state.
Opportunity NJ (ONJ) was built on the premise of the need for discussion and collaboration between community, trade, business and public policy interests toward alternative solutions to challenging regulatory and legislative initiatives – coming together to make New Jersey affordable. We thank those for taking up the mantle ONJ was formed upon.
Now, on the ballot this November, voters have the opportunity to ensure that the gas tax revenue only will be used for capital infrastructure improvement, by securing that promise in a constitutional amendment. The successful passage of this question is critical to a long term transportation funding solution and eliminates the potential for future mismanagement.
We encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote on this important initiative.