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High taxes/high cost-of-living remains the single biggest obstacle to a full-blown economic recovery in New Jersey, say members of the State Chamber of Commerce in the Baker Tilly - New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Spring 2015 Economic Outlook Survey.

2015 07 09 Aldrin tmBorn and raised in Montclair, astronaut Buzz Aldrin will be honored this autumn by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce during its second annual Innovation Gala.

2015 07 10 Marcus Cobbe tmEven with half of the year in the books, many small business owners wait until December or January to assess their business and identify ways to improve its financial performance. Yet making time in June or July for a mid-year check-in – when you have a good idea of your business' needs – may be one of the best times to help your business save time and money, and operate more efficiently in the long run.

2015 07 09 Kim Guadagno tmLast fall, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio rejected the entreaties of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to move its headquarters to the far West Side of Manhattan in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks. The Democratic mayor called the company's subsidy request "a nonstarter."

Donna Custard has been named president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, replacing Dana Egreczky who retired from that position on June 30.

Science fiction and the role it played in inspiring some of the world's most groundbreaking innovations will be the theme of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce's second annual Innovation Gala (iGALA 2.0) on Oct. 26, 2015 at The Palace in Somerset.

2015 07 06 Worldcup trophy tmTeam USA was powered by three goals from Carli Lloyd, of Delran, and by a goal from Tobin Heath, of Basking Ridge. They are two of the four New Jersey women on what some have begun calling the best women's soccer team of all time. Heather O'Reilly of East Brunswick and Christie Rampone of Point Pleasant are also on the squad.

2015 07 01 BL England power plantThe New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is supporting a major project in South Jersey that will provide the B.L. England electric generation plant in Beesley's Point with the natural gas supply it needs to stop burning coal, and pave the way for it to become one of the cleanest power plants in New Jersey. The project also will provide a critical back-up route for natural gas to more than 142,000 customers in Cape May and Atlantic counties who now depend on a single pipeline.

Tracking Legislation and Other Items Important to the Business Community:

State Budget Fiscal Year 2016
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Tax on Job Creators
A-4602 (Prieto/D-32; Greenwald/D-6; Sweeney/D-3)

The Governor issued a conditional veto, asking the Legislature to agree to an increase in the state's Earned Income Tax Credit from 20 percent to 30 percent. The Assembly approved the Governor's recommendations by a vote of 64-4. The Senate concurred by a vote of 38-1. Raises the gross income tax rate on taxable income exceeding $1 million to 10.75 percent for a temporary four-year-period and restores the state earned income tax credit to 25 percent of the federal credit. When taxes are increased, we see businesses and high net worth individuals consider their options and many move their residency and, in some cases, their businesses out of New Jersey. After these highly desired job creators leave, state government will lose the revenue it sought to collect.

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Economic Development
Senate Economic Growth Committee
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Includes Advanced Manufacturing/R&D in Economic Incentives
S-3010 (Sarlo/D-36)

Senate committee passed. Allows certain large development projects which involve businesses engaged in research, development or manufacture of drugs and medical devices, as well as businesses licensed to provide clinical laboratory services to qualify as mega projects under the Grow New Jersey Assistance Act (GROW NJ). If a project qualifies for mega project status, the value of its GROW NJ tax credits increases. This provision will allow the EDA to attract advanced manufacturing to New Jersey, which will diversify the state's economy and create jobs.

Senate Economic Growth Committee S-3010 Vote: Lesniak, Raymond J. - Yes; Cruz-Perez, Nilsa (VC) - Yes; Kyrillos, Joseph M. - Yes; Oroho, Steven V. - Yes; Whelan, Jim - Yes

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New Jersey Business Advisory Council
S-2709 (Beck/R-11; Sarlo/D-36)

Senate passed 40-0. Establishes the "New Jersey Business Advisory Council" within the Business Action Center (BAC) in the Department of State to advise the BAC and New Jersey Economic Development Authority on issues involving the improvement of the overall business climate in New Jersey. This council would be crucial in providing the BAC with direct input from the business community.

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Allows Parking Facilities to Qualify for Incentives
S-2458 (Pou/D-35; Sweeney/D-3; Pintor Marin/D-29; Wimberly/D-35; Singleton/D-7)

Senate passed 34-4; sent to Governor. Permits redevelopers that enter into long-term operation and maintenance agreements with municipal parking authorities to obtain tax credits under the ERG program when they develop mixed-use parking projects. The establishment of parking structures will incentivize consumers and businesses to patronize and live in newly developed/redeveloped areas.

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Mandated Paid Sick Leave
S-785 (Weinberg/D-37)

Senate held. Requires all employers to provide earned sick leave to each worker it employs in New Jersey, with the exemption of employees bound by a collective bargaining agreement. Employees will receive one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked. A major concern for the State Chamber is the clause that will grandfather the current nine municipalities that already mandate paid sick leave through a local ordinance into this version of the legislation. We believe that this does not provide a level-playing field and may have unintended consequences, setting a bad precedent regarding future legislation that seeks to set statewide standards. Additional concerns include liability issues, notification, finding replacements and documentation.

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Prohibits Employer Credit Check
S-524 / S-1130 (Gill/D-34; Turner/D-15)

Senate passed 22-16. Prohibits an employer from requiring a credit check on a current or prospective employee, unless the employer is required to do so by law, or reasonably believes that an employee has engaged in a specific activity that is financial in nature and constitutes a violation of law. Businesses should have the option to utilize the use of credit information based on the individual needs of their business operation.

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Thumbs up and down indicates the Chamber's support or opposition to issues. Call the New Jersey Chamber Government Relations Department at (609) 989-7888 with questions or comments.

2015 06 26 Chris ChristieGov. Chris Christie signed a budget just shy of $34 billion on Friday in Trenton while using his veto pen to eliminate a proposed tax hike on millionaires and a 15 percent corporate business tax surcharge.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce supports Gov. Christie’s action today on the state budget. It is another example of fiscal policy by this governor that will help stabilize the business climate in New Jersey.

The State Chamber recognizes that many aspects of the governor's budget proposal have remained intact, including the final year of phased-in business tax cuts, such as single sales factor and net operating loss, that were initiated several years ago. We extend that appreciation to the bipartisan effort of our state legislators.

2015 06 23 Tax HearingVIDEO: “I don’t have to tell any of you that competition is fierce. I live in South Jersey and see commercials for New York, and they are chomping at the bit trying to steal away our businesses,” said New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Government Relations Michael Egenton.