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An annual rite of passage in the state budget is the diversion of licensing fee revenue into the General Fund.

Another regular reality, exacerbated by the pandemic, are the obstacles that businesses and nonprofits face in getting their licenses approved or renewed, or even answers to their questions.

That’s why NJBIA is urging the state to utilize more of those fees for their intended use.

Especially in a cash-rich year.

“Every year there are thousands of New Jersey licensees that need to be serviced by the state Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and too often there are hindrances or delays that these businesses and nonprofits must contend with because the Division is under-resourced,” said NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas.

“Cumulatively, these delays can stunt our professional growth. At a time when we’re looking at a large budget surplus, we believe more in licensing fees should be directed back to DCA for their intended purposes.”

The state DCA oversees 51 professional and occupational boards. It receives millions of dollars in licensing fees every year from a multitude of professionals, from nurses and home healthcare aides to accountants and social workers to dentists and salon workers.

In Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget for FY23, $38.5 million of the $103.3 million in revenue from DCA’s professional boards is being transferred to the General Fund – a diversion rate of more than 37%

That’s also $30 million more being diverted in FY23 than in the current fiscal year

Buteas said if licensing fees went directly back to DCA it would help with technology and infrastructure upgrades that allow for greater capacity and efficiency for both licensed professionals and state employers.

She said with current workforce challenges, the more money going back to the Division to support licensing boards, trained staff, operating procedures, and customer service would help improve the situation for all involved.

“Remedying these challenges would help the backlogs of license applications before the many boards overseen by the Division and expedite better customer service for the business and nonprofit communities,” Buteas said. “And with that, it would help consumers across the state who are in need of these professional services that are licensed.

“DCA and other agencies that license in New Jersey need to be fully supported. We look forward to working with Treasury, the Legislature and DCA to see that more licensing fees charged to our businesses and nonprofits go to their intended use.”