Volume 5/Issue 29

  • Governor Christie Challenges Business Community to Rival Labor Unions
  • Rating Agency Recommends Future Toll Increase for AC Expressway
  • Hospitals May Be Required to Make Local Municipal Payments

Governor Christie Challenges Business Community to Rival Labor Unions

Noting that state public sector unions gave the Democratic legislative majorities $10 million in the recent election cycle, Governor Christie admonished audience members at a New Jersey Business & Industry Forum last week to stop “playing both sides to the middle,”  urged them “that is time to get a spine” and to “open up the checkbook” when it comes to combatting the efforts of labor unions and Senate and Assembly leadership at election time and on large-scale issues of importance such as pension reform.

The Governor noted that he is six years and 430 vetoes into his governorship, but that he is still sent “job-killing tax increases, job-killing regulatory increases” and other legislation that could make the business climate of the state worse if such policies were enacted.

Lamenting the legislature’s actions of sending high cost issues to the ballot after he vetoes the original bill, Governor Christie chided the business community for not putting the necessary funding up to educate the public to defeat such measures, such as the one that raised the state’s minimum wage.

The Governor challenged the business community to rival or be more powerful than the 800,000 public sector workers in the state, stating that there are more businesses than those in the labor community.  He advised them to start with challenging Senate President Sweeney’s recent proposal to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot requiring that pension payments be made on a quarterly basis, which Governor noted will cost $3 billion. 
 
Click here to view the Governor’s speech in its entirety.

Rating Agency Recommends Future Toll Increase For AC Expressway

Though it maintained the Atlantic City Expressway’s “stable” credit rating, Fitch Ratings  warned that the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), which operates the roadway, may have to consider raising tolls in the future in order to make up for declining revenues.  

Fitch noted that the expressway, “is exposed to leisure-oriented traffic that is dependent on the health of the Atlantic City gaming industry,” but that “Traffic on the expressway has been declining primarily as a result of the economic downturn and regional gaming competition...”  

Given that the last toll increase was in 2008, and that the current average toll on the expressway is $1.47, Fitch advised the SJTA that, “Willingness to raise rates will be critical in the next five years given any necessary maintenance work and an increasing debt service profile.”  

Hospitals May Be Required to Make Local Municipal Payments

Bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Robert Singer and Senator Joe Vitale would require nonprofit hospitals with for-profit facilities to make payments to host municipalities to compensate for blanket tax exemptions on their property. The bill updates tax laws that date back to 1913.

The legislation directs non-profit hospitals that have for-profit operations make “Community Service Contributions” directly to their municipalities based on a payment formula of $2.50 per day for each hospital bed and $750 per day for each facility providing Satellite Emergency Care.

The “Community Service Contributions” would be dedicated to property tax relief and for public safety, such as police, fire and emergency services and five percent of the payments would be sent to the county where the hospital is located. Any hospital that is losing money could apply for an exemption from the payments.