Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey

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CIANJ President's Message

"Balancing the NJ Budget While Paying for Vital Programs"


by John Galandak, April 2014 COMMERCE Magazine Column

It’s budget season again in New Jersey and Spring Training for Major League Baseball, a time of hope and anticipation if you are the Governor of New Jersey or a New York Mets fan—and Governor Chris Christie is both.

“My favorite baseball team is the New York Mets,” said Governor Christie when he talked with children at the Samsel Upper Elementary School in Parlin, New Jersey, last year. Most of the kids were Yankees fans.

Fans of the budget process in Trenton are equally hard to find, as competing state lawmakers have to develop a spending plan for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2014. This process began when Governor Christie delivered his budget address on Feb. 25, 2014, in which he outlined his fiscal plans for the state.

The budget proposal includes spending of $34.4 billion and the projected revenue to pay for this spending, an increase of 3.5 percent that also allows for a surplus of $313 million. It is, as usual, a blueprint for how to bring the governor’s agenda to life.

The underlying goal of this budget is to restore fiscal responsibility to New Jersey, a theme which brought Governor Christie to office in the first place. Runaway spending and borrowing combined with unfunded health benefits and pension liabilities have overwhelmed any good math that would allow for the required balanced budget. Nevertheless, Governor Christie has moved the state in the right direction with private sector jobs growth and pension and benefits reforms.

Make no mistake, the economy, while on the mend, is not booming by anyone’s estimation and no one is forecasting a dramatic increase in revenue to the state’s treasury. When this is coupled with the intent to follow through on a commitment to make the largest contribution ever by the state to its pension plan, there was little room to propose any additional tax cuts.

So while another round of tax cuts would have been a welcome addition to those enacted over the last four years, it was important to keep the promise made during the first round of reform to New Jersey’s pension system, by making the state’s scheduled contribution part of this year’s spending plan.

The governor made it clear that additional reforms to the pension system will be necessary to restore its health and ensure its long-term stability. There are several reasons that reforms are necessary. Paramount among them is the need to atone for the fiscal sins of past administrations and legislatures, which went hog wild with irresponsible spending and promises made to state workers that were impossible to keep.

Now many state workers feel betrayed. While that’s understandable, that doesn’t make the status quo any more sustainable. While the primary cause of the pension system’s problems are due to politicians from both parties making poor decisions, there is another critical factor that is driving the need for reform: people are expected to enjoy longer lives in retirement than when the pension system was designed, and that must be acknowledged in any realistic, long-term solution.

Without addressing this crisis, New Jersey could become the next Detroit; bankrupted by its unfunded pension and health benefits. It has become a losing situation for all. Further reforms in state health benefits and pensions are necessary to create a system that can keep the promises that are made to workers today, tomorrow and in the future.

If we shy away from doing what is required to bring solvency to the state budget and to the retirement funds that retirees are depending on, we only delay the reckoning that awaits another round of inaction.

A Bruce Springsteen fan, Governor Christie is the “boss” when it comes to presenting a state budget to the legislature. But getting it passed requires sounding the right tone in concert with the rest of the “band”— members of the New Jersey State Legislature—to responsibly balance the budget, while paying for necessary programs.


To view the complete April issue of COMMERCE Magazine, click here.

Environmental Conference

"Using Professional Judgment as a Site Remediation Tool"



May 12 - Annual Golf Outing

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Business 2 Business Council

Through the Business to Business Council, CIANJ is seeking to provide opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs to gain the contacts, knowledge, and information necessary to grow their businesses profitably. The B2B Council events will connect them to opportunities across New Jersey’s diverse business landscape.

CEO Roundtable

The CEO Roundtable provides a forum for chief executive officers or business owners to seek advice and share experiences. Participants freely discuss issues they confront daily, such as compensations, financing, dealing with family members, relocations, sale of a business and many of the topics.

Environmental Business Council

Since its inception, the EBC’s mission has been to recognize the important economic role the environmental industry plays within the state, to demonstrate that environmental issues are also business issues, and to teach the business and regulatory communities that environmental responsibility and economic growth are fundamentally related

Financial Decision Makers Roundtable

CIANJ’s Financial Decision Makers Roundtable is intended for senior executives in key financial positions within their firms, as well as CIANJ members and invited guests. The purpose of this roundtable is to share critical information related to financial decision making and to allow attendees to develop professional relationships with each other. CPE credits are offered.

Generation Now: A Young Professionals Or

Generation Now is a group of young professionals in alliance with one another for the purpose of education, networking and peer-to-peer exchange leading to personal and professional growth.

Healthcare Roundtable

CIANJ’s Healthcare Roundtable is a forum for professionals who work within a spectrum of related disciplines to interact with one another by discussing critical issues that affect healthcare, as well as to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and develop relationships that enhance business

Human Resources Council

CIANJ’s Human Resource Roundtable is intended to advocate HR awareness by providing information and resources in various HR disciplines. It educates those responsible for HR in their organizations by sharing knowledge to solve common challenges. As an HRCI Approved Provider, attendees can earn continuing education credits toward PHR, SPHR, and GPHR

Legislative Roundtable

The mission of the Legislative Roundtable is to provide a forum where business executives can meet with state and federal lawmakers to discuss the latest issues affecting commerce.

Manufacturing Roundtable

The Manufacturing Roundtable is intended to be a forum for professionals who work in complimentary disciplines to discuss critical issues that affect manufacturing, facilitate the exchange of knowledge, and to develop relationships that enhance business

Real Property Roundtable

CIANJ’s Real Property Roundtable is intended to be a forum for professionals who work in complementary disciplines to discuss critical issues that affect real property, facilitate the exchange of knowledge, and to develop relationships that enhance business

Technology Roundtable

The Technology Roundtable is intended to be a forum for professionals who work in complementary disciplines to discuss critical issues that affect technology, facilitate the exchange of knowledge, and to develop relationships that enhance business.

Recent News

  • Member News - The Provident Bank

    The Provident Bank, the oldest community bank operating exclusively in New Jersey, has entered into an arrangement with the Middlesex County Bar Association that will allow the bank to an offer specialized services and preferred rates to the Association’s members and their employees, as well as referred clients as part of its “Attorneys’ First” Banking Program.  “Our relationship with Provident Bank will create opportunities to deliver significant extra value to members of the legal community while bolstering the aims of both of Provident Bank and our Association, which are dedicated to providing exceptional service to our customers and members, respectively,” said Jonathan Cowles, Executive Director of the Middlesex Bar Association.

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  • Collecting Sales Tax from Tattoos & Cosmetic Make-Up Applications

    Effective January 17, 2014, the Sales and Use Tax Act imposes tax on charges for “tattooing, including all permanent body art and permanent cosmetic make-up applications.”  N.J.S.A. 54:32B-3(b)(10). P.L. 2013, c. 193 amended N.J.S.A. 54:32B-3(b)(10) to exclude from tax charges for tattooing, including all permanent body art and permanent cosmetic make-up applications provided pursuant to a doctor’s prescription in conjunction with reconstructive breast surgery. Thus, effective on and after January 17, 2014, sellers of tattooing, permanent body art, or permanent cosmetic make-up application services should not charge sales tax when such services are provided in conjunction with reconstructive breast surgery if the customer provides a doctor’s prescription to the seller.

  • Replenishing Political War Chests

    The money spent on last year’s elections reached record highs and as a result, the amount of money left in both parties coffers are at an all-time low according to a press release from the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).  The Republicans hold a slight lead with $400,000 cash on hand to the Democrats $350,000.  There is no doubt that there will be efforts in the coming months to replenish the coffers.