End of year brings benefits for business
Another tradition, this time for the betterment of New Jersey businesses, the practice of not voting on anything during the last three months of an election cycle was ignored. Governor Christie and the state legislature were back at work right after Labor Day. In late September, the Governor signed into law the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, which streamlines the state’s economic incentives programs, lifts limits on how much the state can give out in economic incentives to corporations and developers, and greatly expands the geographic areas of the state where incentives are granted.
The revised law divides five current incentive programs into just two main programs: the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant (attracting jobs to and/or creating new jobs in New Jersey), and the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program (incentives to keep and grow companies in the state). According to NJ Policy Perspective, the Christie administration has granted $2.1 billion in incentives since taking office, compared to only $1.5 billion in awards for the entire previous decade. The new law has eased the requirements to qualify for certain incentive programs which means that the already significant increase in state corporate incentives awarded could grow even larger.
“This new group of incentives will lead to making us more competitive with other states across the country,” Christie said at a news conference. “Let’s not kid ourselves. We’re competing with other states every day for the economic pie.”
The new law’s passage and signing ushered in a new era of cooperation and bi-partisanship. The bill went through an arduous approval process, as it took more than eight months to pass before making it to the governor’s desk. There is a good reason why business owners should support such lengthy processes for making laws, albeit frustrating and fraught with uncertainty—it gives opportunity to, as Governor Christie thankfully did, remove provisions requiring prevailing wage for maintenance workers hired by companies that receive incentives and giving extra incentives to specific special interests. In the end, it passed both the Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly, and as the old adage goes, if no one is totally happy with the new law it’s probably for the best.
Has your business received any of these incentives? If so, great! If not, why? Talk to us. You may be passing up a real opportunity to propel your business to the next level.
The jury is still out on this Autumn’s ballot question to raise the minimum wage in New Jersey. Is it good social policy at the expense of business or just good public policy as more money in workers’ pockets enables them to spend more and stimulate the economy? Trenton’s interest groups are at odds on the question to amend the state’s constitution to include annual increases in the state’s minimum wage, tied to the national Consumer Price Index. It also tacks $1 on the current hourly minimum wage, raising it from $7.25 to $8.25.
Pro-business groups including the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses are urging residents to vote against the ballot measure in November. The business groups, which have united into an organization called Coalition to Preserve Jobs and Our Constitution, warn that if the question passes, it could cost New Jersey as many as 31,000 jobs as small businesses would not hire as many entry level, part-time or seasonal employees.
But New Jersey Policy Perspective, which supports the increase, said it will give hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers a better shot of success and help the economy. New Jersey Main Street Alliance, a network of 1,400 small businesses put together by the liberal group New Jersey Citizen Action, said: “Business owners who work shoulder-to-shoulder with their employees know them and care about them—and they also know that $7.25 isn’t enough to live on in New Jersey”.
The Meadowlands Regional Chamber has not taken an official position on this issue as our membership includes both major corporations as well as entrepreneurs who understand such difficult economic decisions. By the latest polling, however, the overwhelming majority of New Jersey likely voters support an increase in the minimum wage.
Michael Turner. Turner is president of Burton Trent Public Affairs LLC and also serves as chair of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber’s Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee.