Business community hopes to be prioritized in Murphy’s budget

BY Rhonda Schaffler, Correspondent |

Businesses fear higher taxes are coming, and ahead of Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget address, they’re out to show why that would be a bad idea.

The state’s largest business lobby group, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, on Monday released its 2020 Business Climate Analysis which shows that once again, New Jersey ranks worst in the region on competitiveness and affordability.

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka says the state is moving in the wrong direction.

“As part of our analysis we look at taxes and the cost of living and doing business in the state of New Jersey. Income tax, corporate business tax, property tax, sales tax, unemployment tax, and when we rank these things among the seven states in the region, New Jersey comes in dead last,” she said.

Taxes are high, but it’s not all bad in Jersey. Throughout the year, the state’s economy continued to add new jobs. The unemployment rate remains low and revenue collections are up.

And the Murphy administration says some companies are still finding opportunities in the state.

Tim Sullivan, CEO of the state’s Economic Development Authority says by one measurement, New Jersey is outperforming its neighboring states.

“Lots of companies are starting up. There’s a stat that’s kept by the Census Bureau called high propensity business, meaning it’s not just sole proprietorships and likely to stay that way. It’s a company that’s likely to hire people and add jobs. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of filings for that in New Jersey, and much more so than the rest of the region,” Sullivan said.

The Murphy administration has been focused on helping startups thrive in the state, but at the same time other companies are heading for the exits. The NJBIA has long argued that businesses, and residents, are leaving the state because it’s too expensive.

The group has joined with the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce on a campaign to make New Jersey more affordable. They say the state needs to reign in spending, tackle pension and benefit reform and take tax increases off the table.

Siekerka adds that businesses are paying for Murphy’s “stronger and fairer “economy through costly mandates.

“It’s very difficult to highlight wins for the business community over the last two years. Our budget has increased 11% in spending over the last two years since the beginning of this administration. During the same time while we’ve had an increase in taxes, we’ve also appreciated, unfortunately, the increase in minimum wage, paid sick leave, expanded family leave, the list goes on in terms of new mandates,” Siekerka said.

Businesses will focus on two big things in Tuesday’s speech: taxes, of course, and is there any new idea to incentivize businesses to relocate or expand their operations here. The NJBIA argues given the current business climate that should be a priority.