Michele Siekerka Breaks Down NJBIA Business Survey Results
Michele Siekerka, President, New Jersey Business & Industry Association explains the results of the NJBIA’s annual business outlook survey and talks about what the state needs to improve upon in order to remain competitive with neighboring states.
"And once again, we're here at the Business and Industry Association impact symposium, Keeping New Jersey Competitive. We're here with Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. I was just honored to do a forum, once again, with our legislative leaders. And, Michele, when you and I were just talking about it, I... we had a talk about the pension situation, the budget. It was challenging. Yes. I didn't want it to be negative or pessimistic. And, actually, the... the survey, the outlook survey you did, talked about how optimistic so many business leaders are. Square that for us. Yes. Well, our business leaders are optimistic as they look forward to 2017. They tell us that they look forward to increasing hiring, sales and profits. So that's a good message. They're looking forward to increasing wages as well. And that's great for the one million employees that we represent through our 20,000 businesses here in New Jersey. So where's the disconnect? Yeah. Well, the disconnect is it's the state of New Jersey. And we've got some significant issues... Right. In the state of New Jersey. Pension top of the list? Pension is at... pension and property tax... Okay. Are at the top of the list. You know, pension is... We talked about many, many times, Steve, you and I talked about this. There's three legs to the albatross stool in New Jersey. One, we just took care of... Transportation Trust Fund, okay? The second one... property tax reform. And the third one... the pension. Those are three significant issues that weigh down the state and drive up the cost of doing business in the state of New Jersey and make it very difficult, not just for our business owners, but for every resident in the state of New Jersey. Now, why am I optimistic? Yeah. We just did a comprehensive reform that included replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund. And in exchange for that, we addressed some issues around affordability in the state of New Jersey, like elimination of the estate tax. Big deal... Big game changer. Because? Because New Jersey residents are going to stay here now. We have people fleeing the state of New Jersey, going to... number one and number two migration states, Pennsylvania and New York, to avoid estate tax. We have people fleeing to those states because the tax preferences are better for people who are retiring. So a second thing that we got in comprehensive tax reform was increasing the threshold on retirement income. That means, now, that seniors and people contemplating retiring have a better chance of their retirement income not being taxed because the threshold was increased five times. Anecdotally, our businesses..."