Gov. Christopher Christie

TRENTON-Business and real estate industry leaders liked what they heard in Gov. Chris Christie’s Tuesday budget address, especially his goal to hold increased spending to a slim 2.3% while still maintaining business tax cuts and incentives.

Also, as NAIOP’s chief executive Michael McGuinness said, “The governor’s emphasis on bipartisanship among leaders here in New Jersey – as opposed to what’s going on in Washington – was both accurate, and appreciated.”

The state’s Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Bracken said about the proposed $32.9 billion spending plan: “We believe this budget will build on the optimism and positive environment created over the last three years by the bipartisan cooperation of the governor and the legislature.”

Christie did not propose major new programs or themes for the coming fiscal year. He did say he will go along with expanding the state’s Medicaid coverage in line with President Obama’s healthcare reform package, in which the federal government will cover the entire cost of doing so through 2016, and 90% of the cost thereafter.

The proposed budget continues funding for the research and development tax credit at the level of $66 million, and keeps other business tax reforms on schedule, including the phase-out of the Transitional Energy Facility Assessment and the single sales factor formula.

McGuinness also said that the governor’s strong commitment to assistance to college students with a proposed $17 million increase to the Tag Grant program was “good for the economy, for business and commercial real estate.”

The real estate advocacy group leader said that boosting the skills and education level of the state’s workforce, especially in the technology field, will have direct positive effects on the commercial real estate markets.

Christie also said he would restore aid to private colleges with a $1 million increase in their funding in the budget. And he noted in his speech that $1.6 billion in state and private funds are now in place to modernize higher-education classrooms, laboratories and other facilities.