What is needed, economists and public policy experts say, is for New Jersey’s leaders -- public and private sector, Democrats and Republicans -- to come together and agree on a new vision for where the state wants to go and what it needs to do to make up for a dozen years in which New Jersey has steadily been losing ground to other states in economic competitiveness.
“What we need is a grand vision like the founders of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park had in the 1970s and New York Governor George Pataki had in the 1990s for the capital region of Albany and what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has today to make New York a world center of high-technology excellence,” said Gil Medina, a former Republican state commerce commissioner and currently executive vice president of CBRE Group, the state’s largest commercial real estate brokerage.
“It’s hard to look long term because New Jersey has had so many problems to solve, but we need a vision to guide tax policy, infrastructure spending and investments in higher education based on where we want to be in five years, 10 years, 20 years from today, and we need to decide how we’re going to pay for it,” he said.
That was the type of vision and leadership that was provided by governors like Democrat Richard Hughes, who understood in the 1960s that New Jersey had to build a competitive higher education system, and Republican Tom Kean, who created the Transportation Trust Fund and the Commission on Science and Technology and built four advanced technology research centers at New Jersey universities in the 1980s, Gordon MacInnes, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think tank, noted.
Seneca agreed. For New Jersey to compete in the new global economy, he said, New Jersey needs to develop a “bipartisan consensus on a whole portfolio of policies -- a competitive tax structure, business incentives, infrastructure, high-quality schools, higher education, R&D (research and development) -- that would pay off independently of party if you kept doing it for 25 years."