New Jersey Business & Industry Association President and CEO Michele Siekerka issued the following statement in response to today’s State of the State address by Gov. Phil Murphy.  

“As Governor Murphy embarks on the second year of his second term, we acknowledge and appreciate recent steps to improve New Jersey’s business climate. 

“Specifically, last week’s signing of bill A-573, which expedites construction inspections, and last month’s signing of bill A-4929, bringing flexibility to New Jersey economic incentive requirements, were greatly needed and welcomed by the business community. 

“We also credit the Governor and his administration for bolstering the film and television industry in the state, including last month’s announcement of Netflix’s future East Coast production hub at Fort Monmouth. These initiatives provide tax revenue, permanent and temporary jobs and important economic activity for the state. 

“With that said, however, we do believe the administration can – and should – be doing more to address affordability for New Jersey small businesses. 

“In NJBIA’S 2023 Business Outlook Survey, 82% of businesses said New Jersey is either somewhat unaffordable or not affordable at all for business. That is not rhetoric. Rather, it reflects what we and our business advocacy peers hear literally every day. 

“Recall that New Jersey had more than $6 billion in federal COVID relief funds. Yet the governor alone stood in the way of legislation that would have used it to partially or fully relieve our small businesses of this burden – as most states in the nation appropriately did.  

“This $1 billion unemployment tax increase on business, which is a tax on jobs and was solely the result of some of the longest pandemic shutdowns in the nation, now costs each New Jersey business hundreds of dollars more per employee, per year, than prior to the pandemic.   

“Similarly, as we heard much about ANCHOR property tax relief today in the Governor’s address, it must be noted again that New Jersey businesses were excluded from that assistance – even though they pay nearly half of the state’s property taxes.”  

“We do appreciate the grants that have been made available to New Jersey businesses under Governor Murphy. But targeted grants for some do not compare to the deserved, comprehensive relief needed for the greater whole of New Jersey’s overburdened small business community.  

“We should avoid being a national outlier for business taxes and high regulatory costs, not embrace it. It is our wish and hope in 2023 that Governor Murphy works with the business community to bring more affordability and much-needed relief for New Jersey’s small businesses.”