New Jersey has always been a hotbed of innovation. We have more scientists and engineers per square mile than anywhere else in the United States. We’ve gotten here with hard work and smart investments in our community, and we’re poised to lead in the years to come. But reaching our potential will require renewed dedication and forward-thinking ideas, because the truth is that our recovery from the recession has not kept pace with the rest of the country. We are losing middle-class jobs, and wages are not keeping up with our high cost of living.

In order to create more good-paying jobs and maintain the quality of life we have worked so hard for, Congress needs to start working for us. The health of our economy cannot be a partisan issue. Working across party lines, we need to:

Build on our economic strengths. We are leaders in healthcare, biotechnology, and medical research, with the most talented workforce in the world. We need to leverage our highly-educated workforce to attract the next generation of technology and clean energy jobs to New Jersey. We already have a strong foundation with 600 solar jobs in our community, as well as state of the art medical facilities like Morristown Memorial Hospital – let’s build on it.

Pass a tax plan that supports the middle class. That’s the only way we will be able to provide meaningful tax relief for New Jersey’s middle-class families. We only receive 74 cents back for every $1 we send to Washington in federal taxes – less than any other state. We already do more than our fair share. The federal tax bill targets us even further, with NJ affected worse than any other state in the nation. Congress must work on real tax relief to help the people of New Jersey, and I will fight to bring back our full deduction for state and local taxes.

Promote fiscal responsibility. Congress’ tax plan added $1.9 trillion dollars to our deficit. This massive increase in debt has the potential to drag on our economy and places a heavy burden on our children. And our representatives in Congress openly talk about using the massive deficit they’ve created to slash Social Security and Medicare. We need our leaders in Congress to come together to pass fiscally responsible policies that grow the economy without growing our debt.

Rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. For more than two decades, we’ve waited for the construction of a new rail tunnel to New York. The Northeast produces 20 percent of our nation’s GDP, and moving this project forward will help our national economy by creating jobs, attracting businesses, and making our workers more productive by cutting commuting times. Economically sabotaging our economy is bad for New Jersey and bad for the country. The federal government must honor its agreement and commit to funding its share of the Gateway project.

Control the Cost of Healthcare. We need to stabilize the healthcare marketplace and work to keep costs down on prescription drugs to help our families keep more money in their pockets. Congress had more than seven years to come up with a plan to make sure cost-sharing reductions were funded. Instead of proposing solutions to fix the system, they are working to sabotage the healthcare marketplace to score political points.

Invest in education and job training. A good job comes from a good education, and good schools attract new businesses. I want to work with parents and our local schools to invest in science, technology, engineering, math, and civics. I want to help our great universities like Montclair State, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Drew University, and the community colleges in Essex, Morris, Passaic, and Sussex counties partner with local employers to provide a direct path to high-skill jobs for recent graduates so we don’t lose our talent to other states. For those who do not plan to go to college, we should provide apprenticeships and job training opportunities that lead directly to a job. Finally, we need to do much more to make college affordable to everyone who has the talent and work ethic to thrive.

The education cuts pushed by Congress either mean less funding for our local schools or increases in property taxes. Both hurt our economy, our students, and the ability of our children to compete for good jobs in the future.