Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) says you can see good things happening for New Jersey, you just have to look beneath the surface.
New funding to address transportation infrastructure, tax reforms that make the state more competitive and even the takeover of Atlantic City have all contributed to increased investment, both public and private.
Speaking at today’s Meet the Decision Makers Event, Sweeney said, “We’re at the very forefront of a great future in the state.”
While increasing the gas tax was not popular, it was necessary to fund renewal of the Transportation Trust Fund to address long-term transportation problems that had been ignored for several years. The renewal of the Transportation Trust Fund will provide $2 billion per year for roads, rail, and ports for eight years.
“This state is a logistics state,” Sweeney said. “We need to be able to move people and products, and our infrastructure is failing.”
Sweeney said he was proud of the tax reforms that were enacted with the gas tax—eliminating the estate tax, increasing the income tax exclusion for pension and retirement, and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers. These initiatives will make the state more attractive for businesses and retirees.
Meanwhile, the biggest issues facing the state are ones that have been neglected by state government for too long, such as inadequate pension contributions and long-term borrowing.
“We’re doing well,” Sweeney said. “If you look under the surface, our issues are legacy costs from people looking the other way and allowing things to keep sliding through.”
But the investment in infrastructure is going to “really juice the economy,” and the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 will allow the whole state to benefit from it, he said.
The state takeover of Atlantic City is a perfect example of how making difficult, unpopular decisions can pay off. Getting Atlantic City’s finances in order has attracted the Hard Rock Café, which will invest $400 million and create 3,000 jobs by taking over the former Taj Mahal casino.
“I think you’re going to see some really good things coming out of Atlantic City now,” he said.