To: Chairman John Burzichelli and Members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee
From: Christopher Emigholz, Vice President Government Affairs
Date: May 4, 2020
RE: NJBIA Testimony to Assembly Appropriations Committee on
Three COVID-19 Bills (A-3959, A-3965, A-3967) Supporting
New Jersey Businesses
Good morning! My name is Christopher Emigholz, and I am the Vice President of Government Affairs for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) covering economic development, tax and budget issues.
On behalf of our member companies that provide 1 million jobs in our state and make NJBIA the largest statewide business association in the nation, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you regarding the COVID-19 bills up in your committee today supporting New Jersey businesses. This unprecedented public health crisis has devastated many small businesses and the jobs they create throughout New Jersey, and we are happy to support A-3959, A-3965 and A-3967 as they will help our State’s businesses and taxpayers survive this crisis.
The passage of these bills today plus your quick actions in March and April are a good start to saving the New Jersey economy, but much more needs to be done as soon as possible. Preserving New Jersey’s job-creation engine is a monumental task, but fortunately the Federal government has provided us billions of dollars to help in this effort. We cannot afford to wait any longer to use that money that was designed to immediately help people and businesses survive this crisis. It was never intended to help balance our State Budget, and these bills and others like them will be a step towards that immediate assistance that we need now.
A-3959 (Mukherji) – NJBIA supports this bill as it will assist many of the small hospitality businesses that were forced to close or scale back their operations because of Governor Murphy’s executive orders shutting down businesses in response to the public health crisis. Zero-interest loans will help many of these businesses stay afloat right now and be in a better position to more rapidly recover when Governor Murphy starts to reopen the economy.
NJBIA would suggest expanding A-3959 in several ways: 1) It would be helpful to cover more small businesses by increasing the relatively low $1.5 million annual revenue threshold as the recent EDA loan program included small businesses up to $5 million in annual revenue. 2) With the catastrophic economic conditions because of COVID-19, a grant program may be necessary in addition to the bill’s current loan program. 3) Clarifying that the Governor can use the funding available under the CARES Act and can increase the $5 million through that Federal funding would be helpful to more easily expand this program without burdening our already overwhelmed state budget.
A-3965 (Moen) – NJBIA supports this bill as it will allow more businesses harmed by this pandemic to access EDA programs. Given how many businesses of all kinds have been ravaged by this disaster, NJBIA would like to see greater expansion of EDA programs beyond this bill. But A-3965 is certainly going in the right direction for these small producers of alcoholic beverages that may need operating support outside of the existing capital program.
A-3967 (Danielsen) – NJBIA supports this bill as it will help taxpayers struggling with paying their bills. Tax relief of all kinds is needed for businesses throughout the state struggling to pay any of their expenses while their operations are shut down or cut back, and we all know New Jerseyans have always struggled with our highest-in-the-nation property taxes. Extending the interest-free period for taxpayers who are a little late paying their property taxes would be welcome relief.
Beyond these three bills, NJBIA hopes to see you continue to advance legislation from the New Jersey Business Coalition’s recommendations submitted to the Legislature on April 1. Whether they are bills using the federal funding that New Jersey was provided through the CARES Act or loosening some of the onerous state rules and regulations to give small businesses some flexibility as they struggle to stay open and recover, businesses need your help.
Thank you for your support of these bills, and we look forward to continuing to work with you all to help all New Jersey businesses struggling because of this pandemic.