New Jersey – According to the state’s leading advocate for small businesses, 2011 was a good year for small businesses in New Jersey but there’s much more work to do.  Laurie Ehlbeck, State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), said today that pension reform, the property tax cap and a number of regulatory improvements made last year a legislative success.

“From a small business perspective, 2011 was a very productive legislative year,” said Ehlbeck.   “The Governor and the Legislature worked well together to control state spending, reform the long-term structural deficit and reduce the torrent of regulations that kill small businesses.

“But there are significant challenges that threaten our prosperity and we want our leaders in Trenton to know that they cannot be complacent,” she continued.

Ehlbeck said that the pension and benefits reforms for government should be reflected this year in flat or lower property taxes.  If they don’t materialize, then additional reforms will be necessary.

“We should know soon whether the reforms are working because school districts will be introducing their budgets in the next few weeks,” said Ehlbeck.  “Property tax increases this year should be minimal, and that’s very important for small businesses.”

She said also that more dramatic regulatory reforms are necessary.

“The Regulatory Flexibility Act is very important for small businesses and we would like to see that become law this year,” said Ehlbeck.  “New Jersey’s regulatory system is notoriously hostile to small businesses and that needs to change dramatically or we’ll never be competitive with the high-growth states in the south and west.”

The Regulatory Flexibility Act would, among other things, require bureaucrats to consider the impact of new mandates before they are adopted.

“Regulations can’t be imposed if the cost to the economy will be higher than the provable improvements in public health and safety,” said Ehlbeck.  “The arguments for new regulations are very often theoretical, but the high cost of regulations is not a theory.

“The Regulatory Flexibility Act is a major step in the right direction and we are going to work hard this year to ensure that the legislation is passed into law.”