RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces New “Stay in Jersey” Campaign to Fight Back Against New York’s Proposed Congestion Tax, Save Jersey Commuters Time & Money, Support Jersey’s Local Businesses, More Time with Families

 

Above: Gottheimer announcing a new Stay in Jersey campaign.

PARAMUS, NJ — Today, May 4, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced a new “Stay in Jersey” campaign to urge all Jersey residents who used to commute to New York City every day prior to the pandemic, but then worked from home or a local office as the region recovered, to keep working from Jersey. Gottheimer called on all NYC-based businesses to encourage and promote New Jersey workers to stay and work from Jersey, and not make their Jersey-based employees go back to their long, expensive daily commute. Gottheimer also called for the State to provide new “Stay in Jersey” tax incentives to New York businesses that open up new regional office hubs for Jersey residents to work from full or part time. Gottheimer is working closely with State Senator Joe Lagana and Assemblyman Chris Tully, who are drafting “Stay in Jersey” legislation.

By avoiding the expensive tolls, the cost of parking and gas, and New York’s proposed congestion tax, Jersey commuters will save nearly $20,000 a year to “Stay in Jersey.” Additionally, Jersey commuters will have less stress and more productivity from not driving hours into New York City.  

Staying and Working in Jersey Means:

  • Saving on Expensive Tolls. It’s a $16 dollar-a-day toll to use the George Washington Bridge, Holland Tunnel, and Lincoln Tunnel to get into New York — more than $4,000 a year for a Jersey commuter.
  • Saving on Parking and Gas. Parking in New York City and gas combined can cost more than $10,000 a year. 
  • Avoiding Outrageous Congestion Tax. New York’s proposed tax on Jersey drivers who commute into the city is a regressive and punitive congestion tax that will likely cost more than $5,000 a year for driving to work in Manhattan — hitting hard-working middle-class families.
  • More Time for Family. Saving two and a half hours of commuting means more time spent with family and friends.
  • Less Stress and More Productivity. New Jersey ranked second in the nation for most workers with 60+ minute and 90+ minute commutes. Harvard Business Review found that short commutes, like working from home or near the offices, increases innovation and productivity. 
  • Protecting Our Clean Air. Fewer cars traveling the hours to and from New York will reduce pollution from the commute.
  • Supporting New Jersey’s Small Businesses & Economy. More dollars will go towards supporting Jersey’s small businesses, including local restaurants, diners, real estate, dry cleaners, gyms, and more.
  • Creating Jobs in Jersey. More businesses setting up shop in Jersey will lead to job growth, including for the hardworking women and men of labor. Realtors will find the space and small businesses will benefit from more people working from Jersey.

“We have so much going for us in Jersey. We have beautiful downtowns with great restaurants, stores, and malls, and everyone knows we have the best pizza and bagels in America. Not to mention our schools, lakes, beaches, cops and firefighters. New York City doesn’t hold a candle. We know our neighbors and recognize the friendly faces around town. Jersey is home,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “When you add it all up — the expensive tolls, the cost of parking and gas, and the congestion tax — Jersey commuters would save $20,000 a year to Stay in Jersey. And, most importantly, staying here and working from Jersey will give you more time with your family, make it easier to get home to see the kids at night or catch their baseball game, and save two and a half hours of often frustrating commuting time and lost productivity every day. Plus, by working in Jersey, it’ll even be easier to find time to grab coffee with a friend, see your doctor, or go to the dentist.”

“Proud to work on this new legislative effort alongside Congressman Gottheimer and my colleagues, Senator Lagana and Assemblywoman Swain. Together we must fight against New York City’s Congestion pricing scheme to help hardworking residents work and stay in New Jersey. This effort will help families save money and time while boosting our local economy,” said NJ Assemblyman Chris Tully.

“As realtors, we sell more than just homes. We’re selling New Jersey as the place to live, work, and raise a family, and because of the hard work of our representatives like Congressman Gottheimer, our job is much easier,” said Michael Oppler, Chief Operating Officer for Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty and New Jersey Realtor. “New Jersey, and specifically here in Bergen County where I both live and practice real estate, is one of the best places for families and workers. We are lucky to have a Congressman who works hard to provide our state with the resources we need to be one of the best places to live.”

Gottheimer was joined today along a main route into New York City by past Chairman of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association and owner of Mahwah Bar & Grill Craig Kunisch, Chief Operating Officer for Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty and New Jersey Realtor Michael Oppler.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Before I begin, I want to take a moment to talk about the devastating news of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would end decades of precedent and take away a woman's right to choose. I want to be clear: I will always oppose any attempt to get between a woman and her doctor when making personal health care choices.

I want to echo what the Governor said yesterday: Here in Jersey, we protect — and will continue to protect — a woman’s right to choose.

Now, I am here today to announce what I’m calling a Stay in Jersey Campaign — to urge all Jersey residents — who, before the pandemic, used to commute to New York City every day, but then worked from home or a local office for the last couple, to keep working from Jersey.  I’m calling on all businesses to encourage your Jersey workers to stay and work from Jersey, and, if their business allows for it, not make their folks go back to the daily commute. 

By staying and working from Jersey, we can support our small businesses and local economy, like local restaurants and dry cleaners, save thousands a year by avoiding the $16 dollars-a-day toll, not to mention what our residents will save having to pay New York taxes, and save on gas and overpriced food in New York — all while reducing pollution from the commute and helping protect the environment. 

You can also avoid New York’s outrageous proposed congestion tax, which they’ve refused to back off of, and would cost Jersey drivers more than $5,000 a year on top of the already far-too-high tolls for bridges and tunnels. And, most importantly, staying here and working from Jersey will give you more time with your family, make it easier to get home to see the kids at night or catch their baseball game, and save two and a half hours of often frustrating commuting time and lost productivity every day. Plus, by working in Jersey, it’ll even be easier to find time to grab coffee with a friend, see your doctor or go to the dentist.

And, come on, we have so much going for us in Jersey. We have beautiful downtowns with great restaurants, stores, and malls, and everyone knows we have the best pizza and bagels in America. Not to mention our schools, lakes, beaches, cops and firefighters. The city doesn’t hold a candle.  We know our neighbors and recognize the friendly faces around town. Jersey is home. 

When you add it all up: the expensive tolls, the cost of parking and gas, and the congestion tax, Jersey commuters would save $20,000 a year to Stay in Jersey. A $20,000 tax cut to Stay in Jersey. Not to mention, all the benefits of less stress and more productivity from the hours spent not driving. Yes, that’s $20,000.

We saw during the pandemic, for those who could, a huge shift to people working from home with the help of new technologies. As things have opened up, working from home or from a local Jersey office, either full time or a few days a week, has become the norm for many. 

According to projections from data scientists at Ladders, a leading source for professional career news, 25 percent of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022. A Gartner study even projected that 48 percent of employees will keep working remotely at least some of the time after COVID-19.  And we know that, during the pandemic, working from home actually led to more productivity. A Harvard Business Review study found that short commutes, like working from home or near the offices, increases innovation and productivity. 

We should do whatever we can to help folks work right here in Jersey – and provide new “Stay in Jersey” tax incentives to New York businesses that open up new regional office hubs here for Jersey residents to work from full or part time. I’ve already spoken to several businesses who are already considering it. And I’m working closely with our phenomenal State Senator Joe Lagana and our State Assemblyman Chris Tully, who are drafting “Stay in Jersey” legislation as we speak.

The bottom line: there are plenty of reasons why our residents who can, should stay and work here in Jersey rather than restart their daily commute to New York City.

First of all, Jersey residents who work in New York and drive pay an exorbitant amount of money in tolls every year, crossing the GW Bridge, or through the Holland or Lincoln Tunnels. It costs up to $16 a day. That can add up to more than $4,000 a year in tolls for a single Jersey commuter. Ridiculous.

Then, there’s the money spent on gas and parking — which combined can cost more than $10,000 a year — for what can take two and a half hours to and from the city every day. 

Yes, let’s talk about all the time of lost productivity commuting – or not getting home at night to kiss your kid goodnight or to catch the lacrosse game.

Jersey is a great state, but what isn’t so great is the commute. It sucks.

In recent years, New Jersey was ranked forty-ninth in the nation for the worst commutes. Another study found that New Jersey ranked second in the nation for most workers with commutes over 60 minutes and for workers with commutes over 90 minutes. Imagine the hours you’ll save staying and working from Jersey. 

Then, there’s eating in the city. We’ve all seen how much an overrated burger can go for in the city. Everyone knows you can’t beat a slice of Jersey pizza or a quick burger at one of our amazing restaurants – like one of our legendary diners or favorites like the Mahwah Bar and Grill. 

And if long commutes, tolls, and gas weren't enough to convince you to stay and work in Jersey, there’s New York’s proposed congestion tax which certainly will.

As many of you know, New York has proposed a tax on New Jersey drivers who commute into the city — a regressive and punitive congestion tax that will likely cost more than $5,000 a year — punishing Jersey residents simply for driving to work in Manhattan.

This is a major issue for Jersey commuters that I’ve been sounding the alarm on for years, and New York has yet to call it off – despite the Mayor’s calls for Jersey commuters to return to work in New York City. I understand why he is distressed. People just aren’t returning to work in the City. It’s hitting their local economy and I feel for their small business owners. But the pandemic hit our small businesses, too. And our folks see the benefits of staying in Jersey. It makes for a much better day. Time and money saved. More family time. Better quality of life. 

Under New York’s proposed, outrageous congestion tax plan, when commuters from New Jersey drive into Midtown, they will get whacked, not only with that $16 a day toll at the GW Bridge, which is ridiculous, but now what could be an additional $23 a day — more than $5,000  a year — when they drive south of 60th Street. Yes, $39 dollars a day or more just to drive to work in New York City. That’s absurd double taxation at its finest. 

Even more galling: unlike the shared Port Authority resources from the tolls on crossings like the GW Bridge, that help both New York and New Jersey, every nickel of that new Midtown congestion tax will go to New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Not a cent will go back to the PATH or NJ Transit to actually help our state in any way. That’s a joke. 

MTA’s Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran stated last year that the agency was, and I quote, “not in a position now to really be needing...the congestion pricing proceeds.” So, even though they don’t need this extra tax to fund their MTA capital program, they’re trying to screw over Jersey just because they can. 

New York also just opened up the brand new Moynihan Train Hall as an expansion of Penn Station, which largely serves commuters from Long Island. NJ Transit riders are stuck using the dark, old, crumbling Penn Station, or the bus terminal which is old and overcrowded. 

And it’s not just the train stations screwing over Jersey commuters. New York just renovated LaGuardia Airport — a beautiful $4 billion project, yet nothing was done to improve the bus station in New York that Jersey residents use every day.

Every day, more than 289,000 vehicles cross the George Washington Bridge from Bergen County, Sussex, Warren, and Passaic Counties, and from all over the state. Many of them work in New York, and are going in to support their families. And for those who say, why not just take public transit, the answer is simple: unfortunately, for many people who live in North Jersey, there just aren’t mass transit options. If you’re in Franklin Lakes, or Newton, or Knowlton, or West Milford, your options are limited — too few regular bus lines, if any, and too many failing trains. People have no other choice but to hop in their car for the commute. 

But, today is the day that New Jersey takes a stand. Rather than pay this absurd congestion tax, continue to pay for expensive tolls, and deal with traffic getting into the city, I’m calling on Jersey residents to stay and work right here in our incredible state.

The pandemic taught us that employees of many New York City-based businesses don’t necessarily need to be in the city to work. That’s why I’m encouraging New York-based businesses to expand flexibility and opportunities for our working moms and dads by setting up regional hubs in New Jersey – and, as I mentioned, I’m working with Assemblyman Chris Tully to craft a Stay in Jersey bill. We need to fill up the empty spaces we have in office parks. We have many and they can be repurposed for many businesses’ needs. Law firms, accounting firms, financial firms, and the like, can easily set up a regional hub for their employees. Most New York City-based banks already have offices here in Northern New Jersey. Let folks work part-time or full-time from there. And, as I mentioned, the State can provide more incentives to businesses that set up hubs and regional offices here in Jersey. Think of them like We Work offices for these businesses. New Jersey has NJ Emerge and Grow NJ that offer tax breaks to companies that remain or move into the state, and have employees in the office 60 percent of the time. This legislation will build on that. 

Think of how great that would be for job growth here in our state, including for labor who will get to build these new centers – the realtors who will find the space, and for all the small businesses that will benefit from people working from Jersey more.

These business hubs can also help increase the state and local revenue which will help lower the property and state tax burden on our residents. On top of that, Jersey residents will no longer have to file their taxes in both states, meaning that your tax dollars will also stay here in New Jersey, rather than going to fund New Yorker’s priorities, and you could be paying less in taxes overall.

According to the most recent Census data, nearly 400,000 New Jersey residents not only worked in New York City, but they filed and paid state taxes in New York, as much as $3.7 billion per year. Most of these folks are daily commuters into New York City.

The bottom line is that by staying and working in New Jersey, our residents will have more money in their pockets, our state and local economies will flourish, and more of our dollars spent will go towards supporting Jersey’s incredible small businesses, including our local restaurants, diners, real estate, dry cleaners, and gyms — making Jersey an even better place to live.

Finally, it has been a long tradition for New York and New Jersey to work together. It is what we have done for decades. But yet, after all of that cooperation, New York continues to look at Jersey as a way to fill their piggy bank, rather than as an equal partner. That’s my beef with the proposed congestion tax. It’s my issue with the usurious taxes they charge our families, year in and year out, for working there.  I’m sick of New York City mooching off us.  As we say here in Jersey, with friends like these, who needs enemies? 

It’s time to Stay in Jersey. For the good of Jersey. For the good of our families and our state. 

Thank you again and may God bless you and may God continue to bless the United State of America.

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