The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Honors Four Legislators
and Three Business Advocates for Outstanding Economic Growth Work
TRENTON -- The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce announced that four state legislators have won the Chamber's biannual Legislative Awards and three members of Gov. Chris Christie's economic development team are being named Business Advocates of the Year.
All seven recipients are being honored by the State Chamber for their work advancing New Jersey as a more business friendly state and as a great place to live and work.
The seven winners will be recognized at the State Chamber's biannual Legislative Awards Reception on Sept. 27 at Bally's Atlantic City beginning at 6 p.m. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno will attend to present the Business Advocate Award.
The four winners of the Chamber's Legislative Awards are:
- Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-3 / Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland Counties)
- Senator Steven V. Oroho (R-24 / Sussex, Morris and Hunterdon Counties)
- Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-29 / Essex and Union Counties)
- Assemblyman Jon M. Bramnick (R-21 / Union, Somerset, Morris and Essex Counties)
The Chamber selected these lawmakers based on their voting records, bill sponsorships, committee votes and their overall history of supporting economic growth.
The three winners of the Chamber's Business Advocacy Award are:
- Caren Franzini, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority
- Linda Kellner, executive director of the state's Business Action Center
- Tracye McDaniel, CEO of Choose New Jersey
The organizations led by Franzini, Kellner and McDaniel are collectively known as the Partnership for Action, which is considered the centerpiece of the Christie administration's economic development agenda and are charged with growing the state's economy and creating quality, sustainable jobs. Guadagno, who oversees the Partnership, will present the Business Advocate Award to her colleagues at the Sept. 27 reception.
"Tonight's honorees were selected because each has taken substantive action to improve the state's economic climate and make sure New Jersey takes full advantage of its many assets," said Tom Bracken, president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. "New Jersey faces many challenges, and we are fortunate to have individuals such as these advocating on behalf of economic growth. Through their individual and bipartisan efforts in the areas of pension and benefits reform, fiscal integrity and responsibility, tax reform, and red tape reform, our award winners are ensuring the Garden State's competitive future."
Profiles of Legislative Award Winners
Senate President Sweeney was the prime architect of the recently enacted pension and health care benefits reform. Sweeney's commitment and leadership helped usher through this landmark legislation. The new law will go a long way in changing New Jersey's antiquated and increasingly expensive pension and health benefit system, and begins the process of stabilizing the state's fiscal health. Recognizing the difficult economic times, Sweeney introduced many bills that will help grow jobs and the economy. He was a prime sponsor of legislation that prevented a $1 billion payroll tax increase to employers that was intended to supplement the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Additionally, he is a consummate champion for South Jersey, particularly regarding the future of Atlantic City.
Senator Oroho, as a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, consistently reminds his legislative colleagues that fiscal integrity is critical to the future of New Jersey. He voices concerns regarding proposals that raise taxes or impose overly burdensome regulations on the business community. He has sponsored countless regulatory reform bills as a result of his work on the Red Tape Review Commission, which analyzes and makes recommendations to improve the state's regulatory structure. He was a prime sponsor of two major tax reform bills this session - a measure that, for the first time, allows small businesses to carry forward net operating losses for 20 years, and the single sales factor which changes the formula for determining business taxes. Oroho was recently appointed to the New Jersey Unemployment Insurance Task Force, which assesses the state's unemployment insurance program and recommends changes that will provide an equitable tax formula for employers.
Assemblyman Coutinho is chairman of the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee, where he consistently sponsors and supports pro-growth initiatives, including tax reform and economic development legislation. He recently sponsored legislation which extends the moratorium on the 2.5 percent fee on non-residential construction projects for two years. Coutinho sponsored legislation that paved the way for a single sales factor allocation formula, a key tax reform that the State Chamber has been advocating for years. Economic development initiatives sponsored by Assemblyman Coutinho include legislation that allows Urban Enterprise Zone-certified businesses to receive sales tax exemptions on business purchases at the point of sale; and legislation that broadens the availability of the Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant (BRRAG) program. He has emphasized the need to address the Bayonne Bridge's low clearance for cargo ships -- to keep New Jersey's port economically vibrant.
Assemblyman Bramnick, Republican Conference Leader, is a passionate advocate for small business, often using real-life examples from his past experiences with a family-owned business in Plainfield. Bramnick sponsored a key tax bill that would have eliminated the minimum tax on New Jersey's S-corporations. (Ultimately this tax was reduced, not eliminated, in the 2011-2012 state budget due to fiscal constraints). He sponsored legislation that would phase out the estate tax over a five-year period. Bramnick was a prime sponsor of the Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act, which modernizes and streamlines state regulation of competitive services provided by telecommunications and cable television companies in New Jersey, resulting in increased investment, economic growth and job creation.
The Business Advocate Award
Along with Lt. Governor Guadagno, Franzini, Kellner and McDaniel direct economic development in New Jersey. The Partnership is the state's three-pronged approach to economic development, consisting of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the Business Action Center and Choose New Jersey. Together these entities provide financing, business assistance and marketing strategies to attract businesses. The team is changing the perception of New Jersey through their services and programs, including regulatory relief, financial incentives, tourism and international trade. Its focus on business attraction and retention - by being responsive, accountable and helpful with business inquires and requests - has ignited a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Their efforts, coupled with the Christie administration's fiscal concerns for the business community, will go a long way in attracting new businesses, expanding existing businesses and creating meaningful jobs.
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is a business advocacy organization that represents its members on a wide range of business and education issues. Based in Trenton, the organization also links the state's local and regional chambers on issues of importance through its grassroots legislative network. For more information, visit www.njchamber.com.