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. 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 the District, as well as state of the art medical facilities like Morristown Memorial Hospital – let’s build on it.

Cut wasteful spending and special interest giveaways in Washington that cost New Jersey taxpayers billions. That’s the only way we will be able to provide meaningful tax reform and tax relief for New Jersey’s middle-class families. We receive only 74 cents back for every $1 we send to Washington in federal taxes, so we already do more than our fair share to support federal spending. This burden will only increase if Congressman Frelinghuysen and congressional Republicans pass their tax plan, a move that will send our tax rates skyrocketing by eliminating parts of the state and local tax deductions as well as capping property tax deductions.

Rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. This summer, a McKinsey study revealed that traffic congestion is a top reason companies cite for not locating or expanding in New Jersey. We’re home to the headquarters of companies like ADP, but they are investing elsewhere because it’s too hard to get in and out of New Jersey. Not only does our economy depend on better roads and rails, but so does our quality of life. As a parent, I know all too well that every minute we spend stuck in traffic or waiting for a train to get home from work is a minute less we get to spend with our kids before bedtime.

For more than two decades, we’ve waited for the construction of a new rail tunnel to New York. While the federal government reached a bipartisan agreement with NJ and NY lawmakers in 2015 to pay for half of the project, that promise is no longer guaranteed.

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, as well as our community colleges, 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 Betsy DeVos-Rodney Frelinghuysen education cuts either mean less funding for our local schools or increases in property taxes. Both hurt our economy, our children, and the ability of our children to compete for good jobs in the future.