The financial pinch for businesses in New Jersey continues during the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, it has become a tight, seemingly unending squeeze, far more than a pinch.
Let's not forget how important small business is to our economy. "Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy: they create two-thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness. A new report shows that they account for 44 percent of U.S. economic activity,” according to the Small Business Administration. And if we conduct a reality check, I would safely suspect that small-business owners have fewer reserves or a smaller safety net than large corporations possess.
I have introduced several bills that will help our small business community in New Jersey. They include:
Senate Bill No. 2370. Excludes payments made for unemployment compensation benefits related to layoffs resulting from a public health emergency or state of emergency from the calculation of employer contribution for unemployment compensation benefits. Employers' contribution rates are affected by the number of times an employee collects benefits. This ultimately results in an employer having to increase their contribution if there is a spike in demand.
With the coronavirus's impact on workers and skyrocketing, historic unemployment numbers, it could easily dislodge the standard rate because of these unusual circumstances. My bill would exclude an increase in the employer contribution rate when affected by a public health emergency or a state of emergency.
Senate Bill No. 2521 Requires the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to publish information related to certain EDA financial assistance offered in response to an emergency declared by the governor. Transparency is the king and queen in an open, democratic society. My bill would require the EDA to publish on its internet website a list of all applicants seeking EDA assistance from utilizing economic growth programs during periods of emergency declared by the governor.
From my earliest times in office, I have sought openness and transparency in our legislative process. Whoever wants to participate in any state or federal program and obey the rules, they should not fear transparency; indeed, they should welcome it.
Both of these measures are fine-tuning efforts directed toward our small businesses. They might not seem as though they create a difference, but the reality suggests otherwise. When an employer assesses his quarterly unemployment taxes, he or she will appreciate that they have a barrier to protect them against the sudden increase inflicted by skyrocketing unemployment numbers.
And if someone is willing to receive government help, it is not unreasonable to ask that their request become a matter of public record, in this instance, on the EDA website. We often speak about public transparency. Now is the time to practice it.
That's my take, what's yours?