New Year’s resolutions can be difficult to keep, but here is one the State of New Jersey simply cannot afford to break in 2021 if it wants its economy to recover from COVID-19: Stop kicking businesses while they are down.
New Jersey businesses are struggling after months of government-ordered closures in 2020 that were followed by COVID-19 operating restrictions and costly new employer mandates that continue in 2021. And while our leaders have expressed empathy and sympathy for the business community at every turn, there remains a disconnect between what they say and what they do.
Consider these cases in point:
As if these laws and executive orders were not enough, policymakers are considering putting even more costs on the backs of businesses. A new tax on financial transactions has been proposed, which essentially dares securities firms to move their electronic infrastructure out of New Jersey to a more business-friendly state.
As this column goes to press, the legislation legalizing marijuana requires the use of “drug recognition experts” – paid for by employers – to determine if a worker is impaired on the job. Most states that have legalized marijuana permit employers to maintain drug-free workplaces by simply drug-testing employees or identifying impaired employees on their own. But once again, New Jersey seeks to be an outlier and have businesses pick up the added cost of hiring and training “drug recognition experts.”
NJBIA has fought all of these added burdens on business because the cumulative impact will stymie the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. New Jersey’s economic growth is already impeded by the high cost of doing business here, crushing property taxes, and the recent enactment of a bloated FY21 state budget with $4 billion in unnecessary borrowing. Saddling New Jersey businesses with more burdensome mandates make a challenging environment even worse.
There are about 30% fewer small businesses in New Jersey now than this time last year. State leaders should be doing more to help surviving businesses hang on, instead of making it more difficult for them to stay open.
New Jersey’s New Year’s resolution should be to stop the madness. Policymakers must call a timeout on imposing more costly mandates because the state’s economic recovery, and the wage and job growth that comes with it, can only happen if this resolution is kept.
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