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NJBIA’s Government Affairs Policy Committee held a virtual meeting this week with Senator Vin Gopal (D-11) to discuss the outcomes of the FY23 state budget as well as other legislative priorities.  

Gopal discussed many positive aspects of the state’s budget, which was adopted on June 30, such as increasing school funding and aid to mental health programs.   

However, he also expressed disappointment in the lack of attention afforded to the state’s small business community in the budget. Specifically, Gopal referenced the unemployment insurance (UI) bill which was put on hold in the Senate and was not ultimately passed during the budget process.  

Bill (S-2378/A-3683), introduced by Gopal, Sen. Fred Madden and Assemblyman Roy Freiman and Majority Leader Louis Greenwald in March, would provide tax credits to small businesses to offset future scheduled increases in UI contributions. Although the bill was held last month, Gopal conveyed confidence during this week’s meeting that they will be able to reach an agreement and move the bill forward in the fall.  

He also expressed the need for a small business package and to look at various other avenues to help keep small businesses booming in the state.  

Gopal highlighted several legislative priorities he is currently pursuing alongside other lawmakers, such as legislation with Sen. Michael Testa regarding breweries, as well as the continued work he hopes to accomplish advocating for small businesses and ensuring the passage of his UI bill.  

With regards to COVID-19, Gopal stated a strong stance against any future business shutdowns like what occurred during the early stages of the pandemic, and also expressed a desire to see an end to weekly testing for state workers, school districts, and others, which he views as an inefficient use of federal dollars which could be better utilized elsewhere.  

In addition to Gopal’s remarks, NJBIA’s Government Affairs team provided a brief update on the FY23 budget and other significant priorities they are currently monitoring. 

NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas reported on several challenging bills that impact employers that use temporary staffing firms.  A complete summary can be found here. 

Additionally, she highlighted NJBIA’s opposition to S-315/A-3684, sponsored by Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Sen. Joseph Vitale, is currently pending Gov. Phil Murphy’s consideration.  This legislation mandates that all non-managerial employees be maintained by the purchasing owner of the facility – unless a reduction in staff is needed.   

However, with that provision comes a requirement that the new owner hire back employees based on seniority under the previous owner, with no end date to offer that employment.  You can find written testimony here. 

NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Christopher Emigholz weighed in on the state’s budget, noting the historic surplus of $6 billion as a minor victory, but also emphasizing several shortcomings in the package. You can find a link to his budget summary here. 

While the state’s surplus was significant, Emigholz did highlight room for an even greater sum which would have helped weather a potential upcoming recession. He also reiterated the total lack of business affordability initiatives in this budget and the concerns that raises amongst the business community.  

One notable example of such omissions, Emigholz noted, is the ANCHOR property tax rebate program which excludes businesses – even though businesses pay nearly half of the state’s property taxes. 

Emigholz also noted the state’s current position amidst an ongoing workforce crisis and highlighted a victory regarding businesses’ ability to meet that challenge by hiring teen workers. Last month, the state passed a law (A-4222), championed by NJBIA, removing outdated working paper requirements for minors and replacing them with a much more accessible and efficient process. As a result, teen workers will now be able to work more and make more, which will also hopefully encourage more young people to join the state’s workforce.  

NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Raymond Cantor also touched on several issues including those surrounding the legalization of cannabis. He reemphasized its impact on workplaces in terms of overall workplace safety and the ability of employers to protect themselves from impaired employees on the job.  

In addition, Cantor also touched on possible DEP emergency rules, environmental justice, and automobile insurance hikes that businesses should monitor in the coming months.