With New York City moving ahead with plans to impose a congestion tax on all drivers who travel into midtown Manhattan, a New Jersey congressman is pushing a plan that would help Jersey residents who normally work in the city to stay to in the Garden State.

New York is close to finalizing a plan to charge drivers from New Jersey and other neighboring states at least $23 if they bring their cars below 60th street in the city.

U. S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, has announced a “Stay in Jersey” bill to incentivize New York businesses to open officers in North Jersey.

He said New York companies that agree to participate in the program plan would get tax deductions to build out space, and then tax credits for every worker who used to commute into New York City but is now staying and working in New Jersey.

Legislation that calls for the creation of a $15 million-a-year program to finance this will soon be introduced by state Sen. Joe Lagana, D-Bergen and Assemblymen Chris Tully and Lisa Swain, D-Bergen.

Gottheimer said the idea is to help commuters “stand up to this outrageous, regressive tax, the congestion tax, on hardworking families in Jersey.”

He said close to 200,000 residents commute to New York every day.

“They pay income taxes in New York, support their local businesses, their dry cleaners and restaurants. Why do we keep doing that? Instead why don’t people just stay in Jersey, support our local businesses? Instead of paying taxes to them, support New Jersey.”

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It's a small fortune

He said the cost of commuting into New York is about to go from crazy to insane.

“You’re talking about $20,000 a year that people in Jersey would save to just work locally,” said Gottheimer.

He said it doesn’t make sense that on the one hand New York officials are urging businesses to bring workers back to the office, but they’re also pushing a new congestion tax.

“What kind of a way to welcome them back is a new $5,000 a year tax for driving into work, you’re talking about a nurse, a hard-working taxicab driver, people who live in Jersey are suddenly going to have to get hit with these crazy new fees,” he said.

Gottheimer said he’s still trying to convince New York officials to abandon the idea of this kind of congestion tax.

“I’m hoping they come to their senses on this one,” he said.

The new Stay in Jersey bill will establish the “Expand New Jersey Assistance Program” through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, 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.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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