As we near the end of the 2010-2011 legislative session, it is imperative that the Legislature use its time wisely to tackle important issues, including one of my top priorities: making our state more affordable for citizens and business owners.

Throughout the legislative term, we have taken up a number of important issues that affect all taxpayers and of course will impact on New Jersey businesses which, for far too long, have had to pay for Trenton’s fiscal mismanagement.

We enacted historic bipartisan benefit reform that brings public employee benefits more in line with those offered in the private sector.  This will require public employees to pay a larger share of the cost of their health insurance and pensions.

We also enacted a budget that, for the second year in a row, does not raise taxes.  In addition, the Governor used his veto pen to eliminate nearly a billion dollars in spending that we simply cannot afford.   

Over the past year, the Governor has also demonstrated a commitment to an issue near to my heart: improving New Jersey’s business climate.  I share Governor Christie’s belief that the State must move forward and adopt reforms that will help spur economic growth and job creation in New Jersey.

To assist businesses, the Christie Administration launched the Business Action Center, which serves as a one-stop shop for resources for businesses. The Center assists businesses in licensing, obtaining business permits, and the certification process.

The Governor has also put Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno in charge of the Administration’s efforts to streamline State government in New Jersey and spur economic activity. Under Lieutenant Governor Guadagno’s leadership, the Christie Administration is actively promoting New Jersey as a good place to do business.

In addition, the Legislature has passed a number of pro-business bills, such as one revising the Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant (BRRAG) program which provides tax credits for companies that create jobs.  Under the new program, companies can get a $2,250 per year tax credit for 6 years for every job they create.  Previously, businesses could only receive a one-time tax credit of $1,500.

Both Governor Christie and I are committed to making New Jersey competitive again by attracting quality-paying jobs and expanding new industries. In the Assembly Republican Caucus we are working very closely with the Governor to focus on cutting taxes and the cost of doing business in New Jersey.

These efforts to make New Jersey a more business-friendly state are paying off.  For example, Honeywell, which is a leader in manufacturing and technology, decided to stay in New Jersey because of our dedication to improving our business climate. 

In addition, 22 companies have relocated at least part of their operations to New Jersey, 26 companies have been retained or are expanding.  These companies which include Boeing, Campbell Soup, Honeywell and UPS, have created more than 3,000 jobs and retained nearly 7,000 existing jobs and brought nearly $300 million in investment to New Jersey.

It is also important to note that after being ranked as having the worst tax climate for four consecutive years, according to the Tax Foundation, New Jersey has moved up two spots to 48th.

I look forward to getting back to Trenton to continue our efforts to improve New Jersey’s business climate and make New Jersey affordable for businesses and taxpayers.

In order to accomplish this goal, I have made it a priority to get input directly from business owners. In fact, I hold a complimentary networking meeting for business owners every month that allows for an open discussion about issues facing businesses with the people who are directly affected by decisions we are making in Trenton.

At each meeting I invite a speaker who addresses topics of interest to business owners and answer questions from the attendees. I am fortunate to be able to announce that the guest speaker of my September business breakfast will be Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

I urge all business owners to take advantage of the opportunity to join me on September 9th at the Atlantic Club in Wall to hear about the efforts of the Christie Administration to improve New Jersey’s business climate.

I am hopeful that business owners will participate in this meeting where we will discuss the many successes we have achieved and more importantly, the many more things we still need to do to make New Jersey a good place to open, operate and grow a business.

David Rible

David Rible is Assembly Republican Whip