Counting the Costs of Permit Delays

At Issue

Time is money. Unfortunately, when it comes to building anything in New Jersey – affordable housing, roads, commercial buildings, or even schools – it often takes twice the time to obtain government approvals as it does in other states. Here, permits can take years – if they can be obtained at all. Why does this matter?

From a business perspective, New Jersey becomes less competitive, losing jobs and tax revenue when companies site new facilities in states where permits are approved expeditiously. Facility upgrades stalled by red tape become more expensive for businesses that remain in New Jersey, and publicly funded infrastructure projects cost taxpayers more money. There are environmental costs when critical upgrades to wastewater and air pollution equipment remain offline due to permitting delays.

From a workforce perspective, permitting delays that increase the cost of new housing impacts many young adults still living in their parents’ homes. Many take jobs in other states where homes are more affordable. New Jersey ranks among the Top 5 states in per pupil, K-12 public education spending, yet we lose too many of these students to jobs in other states with more affordable housing options.

From a taxpayer perspective, the cost to support the regulatory bureaucracy that issues all these permits grows in every state budget. And, the regulatory cost to businesses is baked into every product and service we purchase. It is part of why everything costs so much in our state and why 82% of businesses say New Jersey is unaffordable.

We waste too much money by taking too much time to issue permits in New Jersey. We can solve the permitting problem with these common-sense solutions.

4 Solutions that can speed up permits without sacrificing public health or safety

  1. Eliminate the duplication of effort by our local governments and state agencies. Where a local government can approve a project, there is no need for the state to do so as well.
  2. Emulate the successful Licensed Site Remediation Professionals program in other areas. The program allows trained, licensed professionals to approve projects without the need for government micromanaging the work of professionals.
  3. Set strict time limits for permit decisions. Several environmental programs are already subject to 90-day mandatory reviews. These deadlines should be applied to other areas.
  4. Eliminate some laws and regulations and stop creating new ones. Once a law is enacted, years pass, and no one ever looks to see if it is still needed. We need an independent review commission whose job it is to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens. We also need a process to require all new regulations to first be approved by the Legislature before implementation.

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