NJ reopens. We must now work together to rebuild the economy
For months, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the state’s business community have urged Gov. Phil Murphy to reopen the state, when warranted by medical measures, and let the flow of commerce help rebuild our economy.
Now that we are on the verge of a full reopening, we must remember that there are still some important issues to be addressed before this race is won.
If the business community works in partnership with the state government and we act together in a timely manner, we can effectively address these remaining issues, and New Jersey can look forward to a robust and vigorous recovery.
The first thing the state and the business community must work on together is to instill in workers and customers the confidence that it is again safe to go to stores, offices, restaurants and other places. of business.
It is up to companies to do their part by reminding employees of what the medical data clearly shows – that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. Companies should vigorously encourage their employees to get vaccinated and, where possible, give their employees the time they need to get vaccinated, as well as their families.
The faster we approach community protection (aka herd immunity), the faster our economy shifts into high gear. The business community can and must play an important role in bringing our economy back to where it belongs.
We now know that New Jersey’s income picture is considerably brighter than initially expected. One of the reasons for this is higher than expected tax revenues. Another is an infusion of financial support from the federal government.
State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio revealed Thursday that the federal government deposited more than $ 6 billion – New Jersey’s share of US bailout funds – in our coffers last week.
While revealing this news, the treasurer said one disconcerting thing: The federal government has sent out preliminary advice on how the money should be spent and has given New Jersey officials 60 days to review and respond to those guidelines.
It will not work!
Businesses need this money now, not months away.
We have already lost too many small businesses to this pandemic to wait another two months – or possibly more – and see hundreds of other businesses fail while state and federal governments discuss an issue that has already been addressed.
The US Treasury has previously provided advice on how federal funds might be spent, and there are many items that allow allocations as the New Jersey House has urged. Thus, we once again urge heads of state to immediately allocate US bailout funds to address several important issues.
First, pay off the over $ 1 billion overdue loan to the federal unemployment balances account and replenish the state’s unemployment insurance fund. This would ease an increase in the payroll tax for employers that would take effect on July 1.
Second, unlock additional funds to directly inject capital into businesses that are in desperate need of working capital to survive. We suggest a pool of at least $ 2 billion for this purpose.
Third, approach the problem of labor shortage with a two-pronged approach:
- Follow the lead of several other states and allocate the income for a one-time back-to-work bonus payment. Right now, many people are reluctant to return to the workforce because the paycheck they would earn is less than the generous unemployment checks they received. A premium payment that resolves the difference between these two checks would be a good incentive to return to work.
- Allocate income to working parents with child care needs and the child care industry. Pandemic restrictions on the child care industry, coupled with increased spending on child care for working parents, have forced parents to stay home with their children. As school hours are always changing, funds must be allocated to help skilled workers offset these additional and necessary expenses. Additional funding should also be provided to the child care industry to help them bounce back and provide viable alternatives to the child care dilemma.
The New Jersey House would like to recognize the effective work of our federal and state lawmakers and Governor Murphy’s team. Thanks to their efforts, New Jersey is now inundated with cash – more than enough to solve the remaining issues we face.
But getting the capital is only half the race. To win the race, we must put capital in the hands of the people and businesses that need it and do it in a timely manner, so that they can meaningfully contribute to the restoration and revitalization of the reopening of the world. economy of New Jersey.
In summary, we seek to address two things: vaccinations and money. The business community can and should play a leading role in bringing us to the protection of the community. Conversely, the Murphy administration and the state legislature can and should allocate the funds necessary for a robust and sustained economic recovery.
Tom Bracken is the CEO and President of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, based in Trenton.