Business Report Plus: The future of NJ transportation systems

BY Rhonda Schaffler, Correspondent |
  • Senate vote on tax reform may affect stock markets
  • Is Dow Jones Industrial on the path to 30,000?
  • Regional Plan Association proposes ‘T-REX’ rail system
  • PATH expansion to Newark Airport goes before the public
  • ELEC says 3rd District race may have been most expensive in U.S. history
  • Millennial retail spending above average over Thanksgiving weekend

As of late this week, it was looking increasingly likely that the Senate had enough votes to pass the tax reform bill. It will be interesting to see what happens to the stock market if the bill is approved. The Dow Industrials powered through 24,000 this week in anticipation of the vote. The stock market likes the tax reform plan because lower corporate tax rates put more money in the pockets of big business.

Could the Dow Jones Industrial Average be on the path to 30,000? One seasoned investment manager says yes. This is the time of year when a lot of Wall Street investment managers release their predictions for the market in 2018. Just this week, Neil Hennessy, the chief investment officer of Hennessy Funds, said the conditions are right for the Dow to hit that 30,000 level sooner rather than later. Hennessy has spent more than three decades in the business and his recent track record has been spot on. Time will tell whether he’s right or not — and there’s always the caveat that even if the bull market continues, it’s still vulnerable to sell-offs and corrections.

New Jersey’s state public employee pension fund has benefited from the stock market’s advance. State officials say the fund held $76.3 billion in assets at the end of last month. It’s the highest value in over two years, thanks to a strong 13 percent return on its investments in the last fiscal year. The fund still doesn’t have enough money to cover all of its liabilities, but we’ll take any good news on the pension fund.

According to paleontologist William Sellers, a T-Rex could probably only reach a top speed of 12 mph.

Living and working in New Jersey has its benefits, as well as its challenges. And one of the big challenges is getting around the state. Whether it’s traffic or train delays, sometimes getting from Point A to Point B requires a lot of patience. This week the Regional Plan Association released plans that would improve the lives of commuters heading to work, especially for those who travel to New York or Newark Liberty International Airport. The system that was proposed is called the Trans-Regional Express Rail Network, which officials have dubbed ‘T-REX’. On a side note, T-REX might not be the best name as apparently scientists believe the T-Rex was a very slow moving dinosaur.

This week also saw two public meetings on a plan to extend the PATH train from its current terminus at Newark Penn Station to Newark Airport. The proposal would extend that line about two and a half miles farther out to a new PATH station in the South Ward that would connect travelers to the existing AirTrain Station. State Sen. Bob Gordon spoke with Correspondent Briana Vannozzi about what made him change his mind on the extension and why it might be needed now more than ever.

The recent election in New Jersey might be one of the record books, at least in terms of money spent. The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission says the 3rd District legislative race may have been the most expensive legislative race in U.S. history, with $18.7 million spent. A whopping $14.4 million was spent by independent groups. The 3rd District race was targeted by a group associated with the state’s largest teacher’s union, which was hoping to unseat Senate President Steven Sweeney. The NJEA group topped the list of independent committee spending in the legislative elections, at nearly $6.6 million. Meantime, ELEC says the gubernatorial election was the second most expensive ever, with $79.1 million spent by independent groups and the candidates themselves.

RELATED: NJEA leadership, members address failure to oust Sweeney

And on the topic of spending, the holiday shopping season is officially underway. The National Retail Federation reported that during the five-day period from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday, the average spending per person was $335.47.  Interestingly, older millennials, those who are 25 to 34 years old, spent $419.52 during that period.

Finally, thanks for your continued response to our survey on what Governor-elect Phil Murphy should do to help the business climate in the state. We welcome your response and will continue to update you on the results.