Rep. Josh Gottheimer believes now more than ever that bipartisanship is the only way for those who live and work in the 5th Congressional District can move the country forward.
“Even in these divisive times, even with a four-seat majority in the House, you can still find bipartisan agreements — without compromising what you believe in, and get done what we must get done for our great country,” said Gottheimer on Feb. 15 at the Hackensack Performing Arts Center where he gave his State of the District Address. “Because, the truth is, most things we do — like fixing a road, investing in mental health, or fighting the opioid scourge — aren’t partisan issues.”
“The bottom line is that we’re all in the same boat together. We’re all Americans. Our adversaries are the Chinese government and Putin — not one another,” he stated.
The centrist Democrat said started his speech by declaring that the district made up of Bergen, Passaic and Sussex county was “as strong as a rock. I’m bullish and optimistic about our future.”
But his speech outlined his agenda that looks to make North Jersey more affordable, an increasing economic force and stop the exit of residents to the “Moocher States” that New Jersey taxpayers subsided for too long.
“We can capitalize on our strengths to grow and succeed, to fight for more good jobs and lower taxes, to strengthen our communities, to invest in our people and our beautiful state, and to protect our Jersey Values,” he said. “But, we have to recognize that we’re at a critical juncture…The path we choose to take, as a District, here in Northern New Jersey, and a state, will impact us for generations to come.”
“Will we build on our great history, and our strengths, from our economy to our people, and the values we celebrate, or will we let other states pass us by and steal our jobs and tax dollars?” Gottheimer asked. “Will we make life more affordable, or will people and businesses keep packing up to study, work, and retire elsewhere?”
To that end, the Bergen County lawmaker offered up five points of emphasis to secure that future for New Jersey.
Keeping People, Jobs in Jersey
The first is stopping the exodus of people and business from North Jersey. Gottheimer said this is achieved in part by making sure the district and New Jersey gets its fair share of tax dollars back that help other states lure residents from New Jersey. He rattled off stats such as New Jersey has the highest business income tax in the nation, red tape that puts the state at the bottom of business-friendly lists and the fourth in the nation of residents moving out.
“These stats aren’t exactly something you put on a recruitment bumper sticker to attract young families and retirees — or new businesses, and the jobs that come with them,” said Gottheimer.
“I’m sick and tired, probably like you are, that when kids graduate college or go off after high school, the next day you see for sale signs on lawns because people can’t afford to stay here. We need to do everything we can to help our families stay here, especially after their kids graduate.”
Making North Jersey Affordable
His second item rolled from the first— get jobs back to our state and help high school graduates to retirees stay in New Jersey. Gottheimer promoted his “Stay in Jersey” tax incentive for businesses that move jobs to the Garden State, including opening up satellite offices, and tax credits for businesses that buy Jersey-made products.
“By staying and working from Jersey, we can fill up the empty office parks, help folks avoid commuting hours every day and get them to their kid’s baseball game at night, and support our local stores and restaurants,” he said. “Think of how great that will be for job growth here in our District and beyond, and how it will increase state and local revenue coming here — and not New York City.”
Investing in both people and infrastructure was the next tenet as Gottheimer explained that legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has resulted in grants for municipalities that ensure clean water, equipment for first responders, funding for the Gateway Tunnel project and funding of education priorities such as universal Pre-K.
The congressman noted that since taking office in 2016, Fifth District towns have clawed back $7.5 million dollars in total Assistance to Firefighters Grants, and $2 million dollars in SAFER grants and millions in Nonprofit Security Grants to protect religious institutions, with the goal to lower property taxes.
“We did all of this without increasing the tax burden on North Jersey families,” he said. “And, it will create millions of jobs over the next decade, especially for our hardworking men and women of labor.”
Common Sense Solutions
What Gottheimer wants state leaders to do is “stick by our Jersey Values and use them as a competitive edge against those states stealing our people and jobs.”
“Our values are a real differentiator to many of those states trying to lure our people,” he argued. “I’m very proud that Jersey cares about priorities like women’s health care, that we’re strongly pro-choice, and that we’ve got some of the toughest, common sense gun and school safety laws in the entire country.”
Gottheimer ended the address by stressing that these accomplishments are only achieved by lawmakers on all levels willing to work together no matter their party affiliation.
“What’s clear is that people want common sense solutions – not extremism,” said the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus that now has 66 members. “At this moment in our state, our country, and our district we need more cooperation and bipartisan problem solving — not yelling and inflammatory Tweets.”
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