RELEASE: Gottheimer, NJ State Legislators Announce New “Stay in Jersey” Bill to Incentivize New York Businesses to Expand to Jersey & Combat Congestion Tax

Fighting NYC’s Congestion Tax, Support NJ Small Businesses, More Time with Families, Shorter Commutes, Save Thousands

 

Above: Gottheimer announcing new state “Stay in Jersey” legislation.

FAIR LAWN, NJ — Today, August 9, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), NJ State Senator Joe Lagana, and NJ Assemblymembers Chris Tully and Lisa Swain announced a new “Stay in Jersey” state bill to incentivize businesses in New York to open new offices in the Garden State for their New Jersey-based employees. This is a major next step in Gottheimer’s Stay in Jersey Campaign — to help North Jersey residents, who can, work from Jersey, saving them tens of thousands of dollars every year, improve productivity, boost our local economy, avoid their stressful commutes, see their families more, and avoid New York’s new, ridiculous, regressive Congestion Tax.  

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently struck a deal with the U.S. Department of Transportation and will be moving forward with the Congestion Tax to go into effect as early as 2023. New York’s usurious Congestion Tax would cost Jersey drivers at least $23 dollars a day — more than $5,000 a year — on top of the already far-too-high $16-a-day tolls for our bridges and tunnels, to drive south of 60th Street to work in New York City. Furthermore, no revenue from the Congestion Tax goes to support New Jersey, unlike the shared Port Authority tolls. 

By staying in Jersey and 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, more productivity and more time spent with families from not driving hours into New York City. New Jersey’s state and local economies will flourish, and more of our dollars spent will go towards supporting Jersey’s incredible small businesses. 

New “Stay in Jersey” legislation will: 

  • Incentivize New York-based businesses to set up regional hubs in New Jersey. The bill establishes a new $15 million per year program through 2027 to provide New York businesses with tax credits for expanding business operations into New Jersey — closer to the primary residence of existing Jersey full-time employees — to help them avoid having to drive into the city and get whacked by the Congestion Tax. 
  • Reward businesses that reduce commuting costs for employees that live in New Jersey. This means that New York’s Congestion Tax will automatically make any business applicants from New York City more likely to be accepted and receive the New Jersey tax credit. 
  • Find full bill details further below.

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 increase 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. 

“Just read MTA spelled backwards and it tells you exactly how New York looks at New Jersey right now: as their personal ATM. The MTA Congestion Tax board is getting ready to make a big withdrawal from Jersey drivers with the Congestion Tax scheduled to begin as soon as next year. The last thing that a terribly mismanaged government authority needs — one riddled with investigations — is more money,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “The ‘Stay in Jersey’ bill will establish a new incentive program to provide New York businesses with tax credits for expanding business operations into New Jersey — closer to the primary residence of existing Jersey full-time employees — to help them avoid having to drive into the city and get whacked by the Congestion Tax.” 

Gottheimer continued, “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. Not to mention, all the benefits of less stress and more productivity and time with families from the hours spent not driving. 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.” 

“Encouraging people to live in New Jersey isn’t difficult - our cities are some of the most diverse in the country, boasting a wide variety of the best cuisines, our open spaces and preserved lands span the state and include over 100 miles of beaches to enjoy in the summer, and our schools are the best in the nation,” said New Jersey Assemblywoman Lisa Swain. “It’s our task now to encourage businesses to recognize the benefits of being in New Jersey, and to get the ball rolling on their relocation efforts.” 

“Our team has been working closely with Congressman Gottheimer to address this issue, and to counter New York’s damaging congestion tax on New Jerseyans crossing the bridge for work,” said New Jersey Assemblyman Chris Tully. “What came out of these conversations was an exciting plan to incentivize businesses to relocate to New Jersey, creating hubs for people to work, live, and do business right in their communities.” 

“Recent actions by neighboring states to add exorbitant congestion pricing fees on top of what New Jerseyans already pay, also made clear the need to reduce commuting costs,” said New Jersey State Senator Joseph Lagana. “It’s no secret that working close to home benefits not only residents themselves, but is a boon to local economies. Business hubs spur economic development and investment in our mom and pop shops, local eateries and markets, and boutique downtown stores.” 

Gottheimer was joined today in Fair Lawn by New Jersey State Senator Joseph Lagana, New Jersey Assemblyman Chris Tully, New Jersey Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, Fair Lawn Mayor Kurt Peluso and Deputy Mayor Cristina Cutrone, Fair Lawn Councilwoman Gail Rottenstrich, Bergen County Commissioners Germaine Ortiz and Mary Amoroso, Toni DeLisi of the Fair Lawn Chamber of Commerce, Mike Egenton of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, and New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association President Craig Kunisch. 

The new “Stay in Jersey” bill includes the following provisions: 

  • Establishes the “Expand New Jersey Assistance Program” through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) — a $15 million-per-year program through 2027 — to provide tax credits to New York businesses that expand their operations to areas of New Jersey that are more accessible for full-time employees whose primary residence is New Jersey, cutting commuting costs and travel time for New Jersey workers. 
  • To be eligible for the tax credits, the business intending to expand operations to New Jersey must demonstrate: 
    • That the business will make, acquire, or lease a capital investment at a qualified business facility at which existing full-time employees will work. 
    • That the capital investment will result in a reduction of commuting costs for the existing full-time employees who relocate. 
  • The bill mandates that the NJEDA establishes weighted criteria to evaluate businesses applying, including but not limited to the number of full-time employees to be transferred and the total reduction in commuting costs incurred by those employees. 
  • The NJEDA and businesses are to enter into an agreement prior to the issuance of tax credits. The agreement shall include but shall not be limited to: 
    • A detailed description of the proposed project/capital investment. 
    • The terms of the tax credits and first year for which they may be claimed. 
    • Personnel information. 
    • A method for annual reporting of commuting costs of those employees included in tax credit calculation. 
    • A provision permitting payroll audits of the business. 
    • A provision permitting the NJEDA to amend the agreement. 
    • A provision establishing the conditions under which the agreement may be terminated and award tax credits recaptured. 
  • The amount of the tax credit awarded to an eligible business shall be equal to $250 per existing full-time employee who works at least 60% of their working hours at the facility and 50% of the capital investment. 

Video of the announcement can be found here.

 

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 
 
We’re here today in Fair Lawn to announce a major next step in our Stay in Jersey Campaign — to help North Jersey residents, who can, work from Jersey, saving them tens of thousands of dollars every year, improve productivity, boost our local economy, avoid their stressful commutes, see their families more, and avoid New York’s new, ridiculous, regressive Congestion Tax.  
 
Working closely with our incredible State Senator Joe Lagana, and Assemblymembers Chris Tully and Lisa Swain, they’ve drafted a new “Stay in Jersey” bill to incentivize businesses in New York to open new offices here in the Garden State for their New Jersey-based employees. 
 
After all, why should all of our folks battle two hours of traffic on the bridge or in the tunnel every day, miss their kids’ baseball games, and pay $20,000 a year in tolls, parking, and gas, when they could just stay and work from Jersey and support our downtowns instead of New York’s.
 
This crucial, time sensitive legislation is coming at a time when New York is literally barreling ahead with their usurious Congestion Tax, which would cost Jersey drivers at least $23 dollars a day, more than $5,000 a year, on top of the already far-too-high $16-a-day tolls for our bridges and tunnels. Yes, $39 dollars a day or more just to drive south of 60th Street to work in New York City. That’s absurd double taxation at its finest.
 
Will any of this Congestion Tax go to Jersey? Not a penny. 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 Congestion Tax will go to MTA. That’s a joke. Every nickel of the new Congestion Tax imposed on hard-working Jersey families, from nurses to taxi drivers to hospital patients, will go to New York’s mismanaged Metropolitan Transportation Authority — or MTA. Not a cent will go back to the PATH or NJ Transit to actually help our state in any way. 
 
In fact, there is a press conference going on any minute now, on this very topic, with the MTA who recently struck a deal with the U.S. Department of Transportation to move forward with the Congestion Tax. 
 
Just read MTA spelled backwards and it tells you exactly how New York looks at New Jersey right now: as their personal ATM. And this MTA Congestion Tax board is getting ready to make a big withdrawal from Jersey drivers with the Congestion Tax scheduled to begin as soon as next year. 
 
The last thing that a terribly mismanaged government authority needs — one riddled with investigations — is more money. 
 
This comes at a time when New York City is begging Jersey commuters to come back to work to support their local economy. Nice welcome back present – here’s a $5,000 Congestion. If I was trying to jumpstart a city, the last thing I’d do is make it harder for people to work and visit by taxing them.
 
That’s why we’re taking legislative action at both the state and federal level to combat the Congestion Tax and encourage New York businesses to move to and open up offices here in Jersey. Republican New York Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis and I have introduced legislation to prohibit any federal funds from being used for congestion pricing until the city completes a full and thorough economic analysis and environmental impact statement. We need a full review, so that families can see how this ridiculous tax will impact them.  
 
I’ve also introduced legislation to prohibit the MTA from using federal dollars until vehicles entering the Congestion Tax zone from the Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel, or the GW Bridge are credited an amount equal to the tax charged.
 
I also introduced the bipartisan Anti-Congestion Tax Act earlier this Congress to defund any new Capital Investment Grants to MTA projects in New York until Jersey drivers receive exemptions from the Congestion Tax. My bill will also amend the Internal Revenue Code to offer drivers a federal tax credit at the end of the year equal to the amount paid in congestion taxes entering Manhattan.
 
On the state level, this new “Stay in Jersey” bill will provide tax credits to businesses that expand to the Garden State, resulting in a more affordable and shorter commute for their Jersey-based employees.  
 
You wouldn’t believe how badly run the MTA is. In just the first three months of this year, they lost $119 million to fare evasion. Instead of looking across the Hudson to their Jersey piggy bank to recoup losses with this Congestion Tax, the MTA should take a hard look in the mirror and improve their failing systems that are costing them millions. The MTA Chairman and CEO said in April that fare evasion is going to cost the MTA more than $500 million just this year. 
 
These are self-inflicted losses that have nothing to do with the pandemic. 
 
Not to mention, not too long ago, a former MTA manager pleaded guilty to obstructing an investigation into bid rigging and fraud. This is just one of countless investigations and issues at the MTA, and all the more reason we shouldn’t be letting them steal the hard-earned dollars of Jersey residents.
 
And don’t forget that the MTA received a record-setting, more than $15 billion in federal COVID aid. Yes, 15 billion with a B. It really doesn’t seem like they need this extra tax to fund their MTA capital program, yet they’re still trying to screw over Jersey just because they can. Not only are they raking in billions of taxpayer dollars in aid, but they can’t be trusted with it either. 
 
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. In Wyckoff, where I live, the latest bus back to town from the city leaves at 6:30pm. That’s just not a realistic option for a nurse living in Jersey working the late shift to get home to her family. Plus, the latest morning bus from Wyckoff to New York leaves at 7:30am. Explain to me how a mom or dad is going to make sure their kids get to school and still catch that 7:30 bus. People have no other choice but to hop in their car for the 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 not having to pay New York taxes, and save on gas and overpriced food in New York — all while reducing pollution from the long commute and helping protect the environment. 
 
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 your 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.
 
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 like the Empress Diner right down the street here in Fair Lawn.
 
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 should do whatever we can to help folks work right here in Jersey and provide new “Stay in Jersey” tax incentives to businesses that open up new regional office hubs here for Jersey residents to work from — and that’s exactly what our new state legislation will do.
 
The bottom line: there are plenty of reasons why our residents who can, should stay and work here in Jersey, rather than commute daily to New York City.
 
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 sixty minutes and for workers with commutes over ninety minutes. Imagine the hours you’ll save staying and working from Jersey. 
 
I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again: New Jersey needs to take a stand. 
 
This new State level “Stay in Jersey” legislation will encourage New York-based businesses to set up regional hubs in New Jersey. 
 
This bill will establish a new $15 million per year program through 2027 to provide New York businesses with tax credits for expanding business operations into New Jersey — closer to the primary residence of existing Jersey full-time employees — to help them avoid having to drive into the city and get whacked by the Congestion Tax. 
 
The bill is written to specifically reward businesses that reduce commuting costs for employees that live in New Jersey. This means that New York’s Congestion Tax will automatically make any applicants from New York City more likely to be accepted and receive the tax credit.
 
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. 
 
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.
 
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.
 
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 States of America.
 
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