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Guest Opinion: How NJ Should Use Federal Pandemic Aid

NJBIA Issues Guidance Document 
 
The New Jersey Business & Industry Association today released a guidance document on how New Jersey can best ensure the effective, efficient and responsible use of federal pandemic relief dollars to bolster the state’s recovery.
 
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Entitled “Navigating a Smooth Landing for Our State Budget & Economy, the document provides six core tenets and specific investment recommendations to help New Jersey best apply the $6.4 billion it will receive from the American Rescue Plan amid continuing fiscal struggles. 

“These informed recommendations will help our policymakers to create a comprehensive plan to bring funding where it is most needed and to help New Jersey recover expeditiously from the pandemic,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka.
 
“As New Jersey continues to be one of the hardest-hit states in the nation in terms of unemployment and shuttered businesses, it is paramount that we move from the approach of tactical, block-and-tackle remedies and work toward an overall recovery strategy with the foundation of this critical federal funding.” 

In the document, NJBIA encourages planning based on six core tenets: 
  • Debt reduction 
  • Coordination and collaboration of all levels of government by a central point in Gov. Phil Murphy’s office, with the goal of avoiding redundant spending 
  • Spending that is focused only on non-recurring items that fill a current need 
  • A multi-year approach to spending to ensure that expenditures are not permanently recurring and avoid tax increases 
  • A focus on protecting and assisting those impacted by the pandemic, and not using funding to pay for new, unrelated programs 
  • Stimulation of the economy through pro-growth spending on workforce development, infrastructure and innovation 
“New Jersey’s economy needs to be in the best position possible to generate more tax revenues, without raising taxes,” Siekerka said. “In addition to these pillars that will galvanize our economy, it’s obvious that New Jersey also provide more direct aid to our challenged small businesses that otherwise drive our economy.” 

Some of the investment recommendations include a special short-term surplus to draw down over future budgets for anticipated spending growth and $500 million small business grants and loans.
 
Another $400 million is recommended to pay down the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund debt, in order to delay the pending UI payroll tax increase on jobs by a year. 

Funding for workforce development and social service as safety net programs is recommended; as are monetary resources for school construction and upgrades to technology, water infrastructure and telecommunications/broadband infrastructure.
 
To see NJBIA's full “Navigating a Smooth Landing for Our State Budget & Economy” guidance document, click here

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