MONROE TWP., NEW JERSEY – “The gaming industry has changed dramatically over the last decade, with casinos popping up in numerous locations just outside of New Jersey. This state, and the casino industry, was slow to adapt to these changes. As a result, not only have we lost casino profits, but we have failed to capitalize on the potential for thousands of good paying jobs and millions in state tax revenues that support critical services for senior citizens and the disabled. New Jersey cannot continue on this path.
Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Prieto both agree that it is finally time to allow gaming in North Jersey. They know that doing so will allow us to better compete with nearby facilities in New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. They have each put forward separate proposals on gaming expansion that would gain back New Jersey's market-share, create jobs, and boost state revenues. I couldn’t agree more with their push to expand gaming and believe they have both shown exceptional leadership on this issue.
Still, while their proposals are largely similar, there are areas of disagreement that must be overcome, and overcome soon, if we are to reclaim our position in the gaming industry. What the legislation cannot lose focus on is this: achieving what is in the best interest of the state and Atlantic City; creating thousands of both short and long term jobs; boosting state revenues for programs of importance to seniors and those with disabilities, programs
that have been relying on increased general revenue funding for years; billions in private capital investment; the economic development that will occur in the regions where new casinos are built; and the ability to attract travelers from across the globe and make New Jersey a premiere tourist destination. Clearly, the goals of expanding casino gaming are too important and too critical to the future well-being of this state to be thrown away by disagreement on what are relatively small matters compared to the bigger picture.
Time and again Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Prieto have shown the ability to create compromise for the better good of New Jersey. Now must be another of those times. We must see action on gaming expansion or accept things will get worse. I suspect both the Senate President and the Speaker already know this, which is why they are offering their own plans. Thankfully, both proposals open New Jersey for business investment while limiting the negative effects of transition and change. But none of that matters if a referendum is not put before voters this fall. Thus, if we are to move forward as a state, our leaders must find a way to agree. Failure to do so could mean losing out on thousands of jobs and millions in additional revenue."
Raymond M. Pocino is Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager for the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), representing more than 45,000 construction workers in New Jersey, New York City, Long Island, Delaware, and Puerto Rico. He also serves as a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the NJ Turnpike Authority.