Keep a watchful eye on the lame ducks voting session

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Once a term for an 18th century London stockbroker unable to settle his debts, the phrase “lame duck” eventually crossed the pond to America, where it resurfaced as a 20th century description for a man. policy whose successor had been elected, but not yet sworn in. Office.

Lame ducks, however, are not as ineffective as the term’s imagery suggests. On the contrary, they often embolden themselves to do what is otherwise politically difficult, as they are only weeks away from leaving public office or, if re-elected, years away from facing again. the electors.

Michèle Siekerka

Michele Siekerka, President and CEO, New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA)

NJBIA will closely monitor the 10-week lame duck period between the Nov. 2 general election in New Jersey and the conclusion of the 219th legislative session in January, as this could be the time when lawmakers vote on issues. burning with far-reaching consequences for residents, businesses and the economy of the state.

We do not yet know exactly which bills will be voted on in these weeks between the counting of the ballots and the swearing-in of the next governor and the legislature. However, here are a few possibilities that are of particular interest to the NJBIA and our members.

The state’s current $ 46.4 billion budget is unsustainable because it spends $ 4.3 billion more than the state collects in revenue – a structural imbalance that accounts for around 9% of the budget total. A large surplus produced by the underestimation of income in the previous budget keeps the FY22 budget in the dark. Knowing that government spending levels cannot be sustained in the future once this huge surplus wears off, lawmakers could look to raise taxes to keep paying for it all. New Jersey already has the highest corporate tax and one of the highest property and income taxes in the country. Further tax increases will only make New Jersey less competitive and more unaffordable.

Consumers and businesses will end up paying more for their auto insurance under so-called “bad faith” legislation, which was narrowly passed by the Senate in a 21-9 vote last January. If the assembly passes S-1599 during the lame duck session and the governor signs it, the law will encourage unsubstantiated insurance lawsuits filed by attorneys in the hope of securing settlements from insurers concerned about claims. costly litigation. Consumers and businesses will pay the price in the form of higher insurance premiums.

This law, if passed, would make it more difficult for people to make a living as an independent contractor because it would reduce the criteria used to determine whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor. The practical effect would be to discourage the use of gig workers – a growing number of them are women who left the traditional workforce during the pandemic and prefer the flexible hours offered by freelance delivery work. and application-based.

On the bright side, lawmakers have the opportunity to help New Jersey’s economic recovery by using federal coronavirus relief funds to replenish the state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) trust fund. Employers face a $ 252 million UI tax hike this month – and nearly $ 1 billion in total UI tax increases over the two coming years. Using federal money that New Jersey already has, lawmakers can reduce what is essentially a tax on job creation. The actual tax assessments and the implementation schedule are statutory constructs that can be dealt with through legislation. They are not an excuse for inaction.

NJBIA will ensure that the concerns of the business community are at the forefront during the next Lame Duck session.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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