Key speakers for NJBIA’s Government Affairs Policy Committee Meeting on June 4 included the Executive Directors from each partisan caucus including, Kevin Drennan of the Senate Majority, Anthony J. Cimino of the Assembly Majority, Christine Shipley of the Senate Republicans, and Mark H. Duffy of the Assembly Republicans.
The committee met as the legislature quickly approaches the June 30 budget deadline and the start of a legislative break expected to last from the end of June until the end of elections in November. The executive directors took stock of what priorities, possibilities, and challenges remain heading towards the deadline. The need to finalize a budget reigns as the predominant legislative necessity.
At the onset of the meeting, NJBIA’s President and CEO Michele Siekerka discussed New Jersey’s hiring crisis as a priority issue ahead of the summer season, which may threaten businesses’ ability to meet demand.
Some of NJBIA’s proposed solutions to this issue include: loosening of teen labor laws, the usage of federal funds to create back-to-work bonuses for previously unemployed workers, and tax credits for small businesses offering higher wages.
In addition, Siekerka raised concerns to the executive directors on the role of the legislature and transparency in the spending of the relief funds.
The executive directors, from both parties, expressed a shared interest in transparency and legislative influence on the recently allocated $6+ billion in federal aid. The caucus leaders also resounded positively on NJBIA’s proposals to alleviate the hiring crisis.
Policy committee participants had the opportunity to pose questions to the caucus leaders. Questions ranged from the impact on current Executive Orders tied to the end of the public health emergency, the status of legislation, and the impact of delinquent payments stemming from extended rent and utility moratoriums.
NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Christopher Emigholz discussed the recent budget efforts. At the time of the meeting, spending was slated to outpace revenue by 10%, and questions remained about the long-term sustainability of the budget. However, as of June 9, revenue estimates rose enough to make up for the deficit.
Emigholz also highlighted some important developments including $235 million approved for the Economic Development Authority which is intended to support those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor discussed Protection Against Climate Threat (PACT), a series of regulatory initiatives, which will have significant impacts on energy costs and how business is done throughout the Garden State. These include adopting California’s Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) regulatory standard for the trucking industry and significantly expanding how much of the state is designated a flood zone.
NJBIA’s Director of Economic Policy Research and the Executive Director of Focus NJ Nicole Sandelier discussed Focus NJ’s 2020 Economic Review: An Annual Review of New Jersey’s Economy and the Back to Work Survey which was conducted in partnership with Brother International Corporation.
The committee concluded with a review of the latest COVID-19 data. Cases and hospitalizations continue to decline, and New Jersey is on track to exceed the vaccination goal needed to reach a herd immunity, according to NJBIA Policy Analyst Hunter Griffin.
The next Government Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet on July 22nd.