Christie lays out business platform in phone conference

//October 28, 2009

Christie lays out business platform in phone conference

//October 28, 2009

Candidate tells chamber he’ll lower taxes to improve climate for New Jersey companies.Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie said he would concentrate on lowering taxes to improve the business climate during a conference phone call with the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce on Monday afternoon.

Christie was the third candidate to answer questions from chamber members.

In his opening comments, Christie said employers are affected by the state’s heavy tax burden, both directly through the taxes they pay and through those their employees pay. He laid much of the responsibility for the tax climate at the feet of Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who “thinks that what we’re doing is the right thing,” Christie said.

Christie said he would work to end the corporate business tax surcharge, as well as the income tax increases on upper-income residents.

“We need first and foremost to stop spending so much money in Trenton,” Christie said.

If the tax burden is lowered, business owners will be able to add jobs and increase investment in the state, he said, noting that some have chosen to leave New Jersey and its regulations.

“They’re voting with their feet, both individuals and businesses,” said Christie, who added that to make New Jersey more competitive, he would lower its income top tax rate from 10.75 percent to a level closer to the 3.07 percent in Pennsylvania.

After Fran Hahn, of Sanofi-Aventis, asked about what Christie would do to attract and retain businesses, he said he would be personally involved in the process, like Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell. He would bring all relevant state agencies together in a New Jersey Partnership for Action to be chaired by lieutenant governor candidate Kim Guadagno.

“All of the stakeholders will be at one table at one time” to speed decisions and action, he said.

He reiterated that his first executive order will be to freeze new regulations for 90 days, with the goal of having recommendations on which to eliminate.

“It will show business that there is a new attitude in charge,” he said.

Edward Russnow, of MAC Products, in Kearny, asked what Christie would do to improve the pool of skilled labor for manufacturing. The candidate responded that more potential workers would stay in the state if there were lower taxes. He also said improvements he is proposing for both K-12 education and higher education would create workers better prepared for jobs.

Christie said higher education is one of the few areas where he is proposing to increase spending.

Deborah Briggs, of the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals, asked how he would address challenges in family medicine. Christie said he would reduce mandates on insurance to lower expenses and make it more affordable to the uninsured.

Christie said the state needs to “gut” the Council on Affordable Housing regulations, saying the rules are “stifling development and growth.” He would bring together various state agencies and come up with a coherent state plan that everyone would follow. It would require affordable housing be built near transit hubs to reduce traffic congestion, he said.

When asked what he has learned in the campaign, Christie said he has been struck by the level of despair residents have.

On renewable energy, Christie said he would work to boost wind turbine and solar panel manufacturing in the state and require solar farms at the state’s 800 landfills. He opposes a gas tax to fund the Transportation Trust Fund.

To revive cities, Christie said he would first concentrate on law enforcement, then improve schools through increased competition, before working to increase urban populations by a two-year income tax holiday for new city residents.

E-mail Andrew Kitchenman at [email protected]