On February 16, Gov. Christie delivered his budget address to a joint session of the legislature, officially kicking off negotiations on the state’s FY 2017 budget. The legislature’s focus for the next few months will essentially be on the budget, as it must be passed by July 1.
The Governor’s plan calls for $34.8 billion in appropriations, which is a 2.2% increase over last year’s adjusted appropriation. The additional funds come from a 3.1% revenue growth projection, not increased taxes or fees.
Gov. Christie focused a great deal tax reform during his budget address. He highlighted a recent report on out-migration from the New Jersey Business and Industry Association which found that 2 million residents and $18 billion in annual income left our State over the last 10 years because of our high taxes and expensive mandates. This is something the state must keep in mind as it thinks about pension payments, the Transportation Trust Fund, and the myriad other programs that need funding.
Tax reform is not, however, the only tactic New Jersey should consider as it looks to reverse the trend of out-migration and attract new people and businesses. A recent survey done by Harris Poll for the United States Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform found that 75% of attorneys at U.S. companies say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, including where to locate or expand.
That same poll ranked New Jersey 38th in the nation – a full 6 spots lower than when the survey was last conducted. Who knows how far we will have fallen in the next survey if we do not act now?
NJCJI’s legislative agenda outlines 11 budget neutral legal issues New Jersey should tackle if it wants to improve its lawsuit environment and economic outlook.