John Wisniewski is bad for business - March 2017

 3/12/2017 9:30 PM

Not long ago I was at a meeting of business leaders where Assemblyman John Wisniewski, candidate for governor, was the invited speaker. Mr. Wisniewski is an accomplished speaker and very lively. He's someone fun to listen to...

Not long ago I was at a meeting of business leaders where Assemblyman John Wisniewski, candidate for governor, was the invited speaker. Mr. Wisniewski is an accomplished speaker and very lively. He's someone fun to listen to.

He spoke at length about his work on the Bridgegate investigation and his tenacity is to be commended. He was largely responsible for uncovering the role of the governor's office and senior Port Authority officials in the so-called traffic study that resulted in gridlock in Fort Lee.

It was a nice way to start his comments and it would have been a good idea for him to stop talking right then. What he went on to say was probably the most ill-conceived plan for New Jersey's economy I have ever heard from any government official at any level in New Jersey.

Mr. Wisniewski likes to style himself as a small business owner who really understands the challenges that small businesses face. In 2006, after being in the New Jersey Assembly for roughly 10 years, he did start a small law firm. In my experience, however, full-time politicians who start their own law firms do so to cash in on their political connections. It doesn’t give them a better understanding of small business problems.

The recent legislation that increased the gasoline tax while reducing estate and retirement income taxes received strong condemnation from Mr. Wisniewski. He did not like the fact this would result in a net decrease in overall tax revenue for New Jersey government, which is absolutely true. However, his real ire was focused on the income disparity. It would help keep rich people in the state but did not provide any benefit to retirees who were not rich.

Here, Mr. Wisniewski seems to be missing the point. The purpose of these tax reforms was to encourage retirees to stay in New Jersey and not move to a low-tax state. That way they would keep contributing to New Jersey. New Jersey already loses billions as so many people flee the state upon retirement.

Mr. Wisniewski also is a strong proponent of increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Because automation has eliminated most low-paid jobs in law firms, whether politically connected or not, Mr. Wisniewski doesn’t seem to realize many businesses will go out of business if you nearly double the cost of their most expensive outlay, their workers. Think of the guy who runs the small lawn service. It’s likely he makes marginally more than the people who work for him. If he has to double the cost of mowing the lawn, only Home Depot will make out as people rush out to buy their own lawn mowers. And many doctors who reattach fingers and treat heart attacks.

The provision of corporate incentives was another topic Mr. Wisniewski railed against. Here again he felt it was a giveaway to the rich and powerful. Unfortunately, legislators like Mr. Wisniewski have made New Jersey the highest taxed and most business-unfriendly state in the country. If we want to keep important jobs here, and if we want to encourage new businesses to locate here, we will need a system of incentives to do it. In the long run, this will enhance opportunities for everyone.

Mr. Wisniewski is not a small businessman. He does not understand what businesses need to flourish. He presents himself as a champion of the oppressed but his cure is to kill the proverbial golden goose and drive jobs out of the state. His ideas are bad for the state and bad for the people he says he wants to help.