Opportunity New Jersey, a nonpartisan group representing state employers, said July 18 that it would create a committee to promote growth policies in the state and make it a more appealing place to do business.
Co-chaired by Tom Bracken and Michele Siekerka, the presidents and chief executive officers of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, respectively, the New Jersey Economic Development and Advisory Council will engage with state policy leaders about the impact of initiatives on job creation, economic stability and growth. Those goals are pillars of the “Plan for an Affordable New Jersey,” which the two groups released concurrently with the formation of the council.
Information will be culled from stakeholder meetings – ONJ’s employers represent more than 2.5 million workers in the state – listening sessions held by the newly formed council and data.
The council is charged with determining updates to New Jersey’s “fiscally challenged and outdated legacy systems,” in addition to encouraging job growth, efforts “must include” examining the current pension plan, funding for schools and New Jersey’s critical infrastructure systems, according to co-chairs Siekerka and Bracken.
“New Jersey is at a critical stage on the path to securing its economic future, and remaining an attractive state for businesses,” Siekerka said in a statement. “To recreate a stable environment where citizens and communities can thrive, and which remains competitive to attract and retain business interest to the region, we must act now.”
Recommendations in the plan will be drawn from views expressed by interested parties across the state, Gov. Phil Murphy’s Economic Development Plan, the Path to Progress report prepared by the Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup — which was convened by Senate President Steven Sweeney, D-3rd District — and economists with expertise in the Garden State.
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The goal is to “lead the peer Northeast states in job growth and median wage growth.” Formation of the council is the first step in that effort.
The council will issue an annual report for metrics and will conduct a disparity study to evaluate and set goals for public and supplier diversity to increase the participation of women and minority business.
Next, the effort toward addressing “outdated legacy systems” and dealing with fiscal challenges are divided into three areas: pensions, school funding and infrastructure. The Plan for an Affordable New Jersey includes recommended reforms to health benefits – from which savings would be dedicated to the pension fund; the consolidation and shared services of school districts with a pilot test of two K-12 districts; and the continued reform of New Jersey Transit.
Public private partnerships could help address issues in both school funding and infrastructure,” according to the plan, which notes that changes to school funding could affect property tax reform.
A regulatory section calls for “no new mandates on New Jersey employers” or any such decrees that would increase the cost of health care.
To stimulate job growth – the most extensive portion of the plan – a cap on government spending is recommended until current programs are fully funded along with “a moratorium on any new taxes, fees, costs” or government action that would affect job creators in the state for the next two years. Any executive or legislative bills and proposals should be accompanied by a fiscal impact study, the groups said.
The plan calls for the prioritization and reform of the state’s economic development incentives, with the caveat that commitments already made through the now-expired Grow New Jersey program be carried out.
The 12 breakout recommendations in the job growth section range from stimulating small business expansion, suburban re-investment, remediation of contaminated properties, creating comprehensive plan for opportunity zones, developing a marketing plan between NJEDA and Choose NJ to attract businesses to the state and incentivizing workforce training and job placement with grants or tax credits.
ONJ says its recommendations can be acted upon through collaborative efforts with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the New Jersey Business Action Center, Choose NJ and legislative leaders. Support and accountability from the state’s Congressional delegation will also be necessary for certain items.
Read the complete ONJ Plan for an Affordable New Jersey here.