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Monday, June 17, 2024


Support Sought for Economic Master Plan

Thomas Bracken

By Eric Conklin

STONE HARBOR – Cape May County Chamber of Commerce members heard about New Jersey’s economy Jan. 16, at The Reeds at Shelter Haven, in Stone Harbor.
Thomas Bracken, president and chief executive officer, New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, provided his insights about how New Jersey’s economy ranks with those of other states. Overall, Bracken praised Trenton and Gov. Phil Murphy’s efforts to address infrastructure needs, but believes more must be done to benefit businesses, which, from his perspective, would be the most beneficial to middle-class citizens.
Bracken discussed Opportunity New Jersey, a coalition of state business organizations, which he helped create and co-chairs, which supports government policies that can encourage job growth and improve the state’s affordability and wealth. The coalition formed from the belief that the state’s business industry wasn’t being heard, which prompted the group to work with the state’s government to address issues affecting businesses in, what Bracken said is, one of the strongest economies.
“The state of New Jersey’s GDP (gross domestic product) is the 21st largest economy in the world, so it’s a big deal,” said Bracken. “We needed to make it so we could voice what was going on, so we could maintain that stature, we could maintain the strength of the economy and we could grow the economy.”
The coalition helped refund the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund, through a 22-cent increase in the gas tax, which helped finance several infrastructure projects. The coalition also helped eliminate the state’s estate tax, which Bracken said has helped residents who are retirees stay in New Jersey, adding that he feels some who left may have returned after the tax’s elimination.
“We were one of the few states in the country that had an estate tax and an inheritance tax,” said Bracken.
He also discussed how middle-class citizens have benefited from the Murphy Administration, as he said the governor has done “an outstanding job in making the state a fairer state.” While he agrees that Murphy’s initiative to make the state fairer is beneficial, he believes the governor needs to implement ways to strengthen the economy, so businesses and companies can accommodate other government plans, instead of implementing higher taxes, especially the “millionaire’s tax.”
Bracken concluded his speech with an explanation of an economic master plan that the coalition formed ( The master plan implements portions of Murphy’s economic development plan, for revenue increases and business development, and also a government cost-efficiency plan, from New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
While earning support from officials, the plan has yet to be enacted one year after being introduced.
Bracken said members of the coalition, including himself, travel to different venues to speak about their plan, making people aware of it, and hopefully earning their support. With enough support, Bracken and Opportunity New Jersey hopes the plan can become reality to benefit New Jersey residents and businesses.
Bracken also noted that New Jersey has an enormous amount of assets, such as Princeton University, and recreational businesses, like Morey’s Piers, in Wildwood. While having numerous assets, he noted New Jersey’s economy ranks between 48th and 50th on lists that rank states economically. Overall, Bracken would like to see the state’s debt decrease and new business brought to the state, which he feels Opportunity New Jersey’s master plan can do.
“Any component of this plan will help our economy,” said Bracken. “The more components that are implemented, the more it helps the economy.”
“If our entire plan is implemented, we could turn the direction of this state around and start to get the economic momentum that we need,” he added.
To contact Eric Conklin, email

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