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Sweeney & Oliver Create Task Force To Craft Reforms To Recast State’s Business Climate

(TRENTON) — Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver today announced the formation of a new Business Task Force that would work to craft reforms to make the state more business-friendly and reposition New Jersey’s economy for long-term growth.

The task force, led by leaders in private industry, will be given the broad leeway to propose reforms to state regulatory policy, grants and incentive programs, and business tax law.

“Especially now, when our economy continues to lag, we need to get past the notion that government always knows better than business,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “The state’s business leaders know from their daily experiences what works and what doesn’t. It’s time we ask them to play a larger role in writing their own success story. A stronger business climate will lure new corporations to the state and spur new small business ventures, which in turn will create countless new job opportunities.”

“Democrats have taken numerous steps to improve our state’s business climate, from corporate tax reforms to permit extensions to regulatory reform, but we also know New Jersey has one of the most innovative and intelligent business communities in the entire world,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “We want to enhance our already close relationship with that business community and work directly with the people who actually create jobs and drive our economy. They’re the ones who know best on how to create jobs and spur the economic growth that will benefit communities throughout our state.”

The Senate President and Speaker said the task force would include:

• Karen Alexander, President, NJ Utilities Association;

• Hal Bozarth, Executive Director, Chemical Industry Council of NJ;

• Charlene Brown, Vice-president, AT&T & Chairwoman, NJ Policy Research Organization;

• Terri Duda, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Berkley College;

• Michael Egenton, Senior Vice President, NJ Chamber of Commerce;

• John Holub, President, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association;

• Jaishankar Ganesh, Dean, Business School, Rutgers-Camden;

• Mike Riley, Vice President of Corporate Taxation, Johnson & Johnson;

• Monica Slater-Stokes, Director of International and State Affairs, Continental Airlines;

• Rick Thigpen, Vice President of State Government Affairs, PSEG.

More members will be named in the coming days.

The leaders noted that the task force’s proceedings will be nonpartisan, and the members will have free rein to propose reforms without political pressure or considerations.

“Business and the jobs they provide are the lifeblood of our state,” said Oliver. “Finding ways to help them emerge from this recession stronger than ever will retain jobs and create new ones, making New Jersey more affordable for everyone. We look forward to straightforward advice from these business leaders.”

“The best way to put New Jersey back to work is to make New Jersey a more welcoming place for business,” said Sweeney.