Jack Ciattarelli Q&A – New Jersey Business Magazine
Question: What words of confidence can you give to state companies that have suffered so much since the pandemic? A: No state in the Union has New Jersey’s transportation hubs between ports, airports, railways, and highways. No state has the ready, willing and skilled middle class workforce that we have. No state has the highest percentage of doctorates per capita that we do. What is the problem? We don’t have a governor who is the chief cheerleader in the business community and we don’t have a governor right now who knows what to do with the tax code.
I want to be a champion for business, especially small businesses. They are the backbone of the New Jersey economy.
There are a number of different things we need to do for our tax code to give small businesses a better chance not only to start up, but also to survive the toughest times.
We should cut the corporate tax rate in half over a five-year period; from its current rate to 5% or 6%. We should also adopt the Delaware statutes for corporate governance. Do we want to make New Jersey the most attractive place in the country for business or not?
The first $ 50,000 of small business income should be tax free. This gives entrepreneurs and business owners the opportunity to recoup their capital investments and reinvest [that money] back in their businesses.
For small businesses that have minimum wage wages, we should be doing what Vermont is doing; allow the over-sizing of the minimum wage deduction. So you can deduct $ 1.10 for every $ 1.00 of minimum wage. This reduces the tax obligation to better pay the payroll taxes and the higher payroll taxes that have been imposed on businesses by raising the minimum wage.
In addition, as governor, I will reestablish the Ministry of Commerce and rename it the Ministry of Commerce and Economic Development. It will have a cabinet-level commissioner. Three deputy commissioners will report to this cabinet: one responsible for economic development in the north of Jersey, one for central Jersey; and one for South Jersey because the three regions are different with their own unique set of resources, attributes and challenges.
Question: If COVID-19 cases continue to rise due to the more contagious variants, would you impose vaccines, masking and implementing the type of wholesale lockdown on business and industry, schools and society? in general ? A: As governor, it is my responsibility to protect public health and safety, and I will. At the same time, I think you have to be careful not to close too long. One of the consequences of this is that one in three small businesses is shutting down forever in the state; 50% of which belonged to minorities and women. My feeling is to share the science, to share all the data with the public, to advise them on what is best to do, and to allow people to self-regulate.
Question: COVID-19 has created an unprecedented hiring crisis as people fail to re-enter the workforce. Meanwhile, the state continues to experience one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. What would you do to help businesses deal with this crisis? A: Having the highest unemployment rate in the country and yet seeing signs of seeking help everywhere is incongruous. There are difficult cases and we need to make sure we take care of our citizens in need. We are the keepers of our brothers and sisters. However, I am also of the opinion that if you make it too easy for too long, people will take the easy way out. We have to get people back to work.
Our Ministry of Labor should check whether or not someone is looking for work as a condition for receiving unemployment benefits. We don’t. These are some of the things that have a huge impact on the job market and we are seeing it statewide with the help panels we wanted. We saw it along the Jersey Shore where businesses had only 13 weeks to make money.
This was not the case before the pandemic. This was not the case before the extension of unemployment benefits. That wasn’t the case before there was a $ 300 week [federal unemployment] extra charge.
Question: What investments are needed to meet the development needs of the business workforce today and over the next decade? A: The lack of skilled workers in the trades existed even before the pandemic. We need to put more emphasis on vocational training at an earlier age for our kindergarten to grade 12 students. We need to better identify 8th, 9th and 10th grade students who already know that they will not go to university, and put them in a vocational stream in partnership with industry.
Question: New Jersey is a high tax state. What are your plans to reduce the tax burden on businesses and residents? A: The only tax that affects everyone is the property tax. We have to lower it. This is the main reason why we are considered an unaffordable state. What we need is a new formula for funding schools; one that will pass rally with the State Supreme Court. I believe I have this formula and it will be reflected in my very first budget. We need a more even and fairer distribution of state aid to schools.
For example, a $ 1.10 million house in Jersey City has a property tax bill of only $ 10,000 per year. When a $ 400,000 home in Toms River, Bridgewater, or Parsipanny pays $ 15,000 a year in property taxes on that Jersey City home, people are rightfully furious. It is because of the way aid is distributed to schools. It’s a story the state Supreme Court doesn’t know because we didn’t make the right argument before it.
The current formula for funding public schools is nefarious, arbitrary and unfair. I will argue that it violates the equal benefits clause of our state constitution which says that no benefit is supposed to suffer at the expense of another. However, I will not leave any student or community behind, and I will not negatively affect the quality of education.
Question: Why should New Jersey be convinced that your plan will succeed after decades of high taxes and no perfect solution? A: Three reasons: I bring a unique experience to the post of governor. I don’t think there was an MBA-CPA who twice owned a small business – who also served at all levels of state government – ran for the top job. . This unique experience positions me well for the challenges ahead.