In the midst of self-quarantines and mandatory work at home policies, the State of New Jersey continues to work diligently to address public health concerns as well as to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19. Thus far, the following actions have been initiated by the state in addition to those imposed by the federal government:
- Executive Order No. 102 – Establishing Coronavirus Task Force
- Executive Order No. 103 – Declaring State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency
- Executive Order No. 104 – Governor Murphy Announces Aggressive Social Distancing Measures to Mitigate Further Spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey
- All Governor’s Transcripts of Coronavirus Briefings and Press Releases
- As of March 16, New Jersey residents are advised not to leave their homes between 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The only exceptions, according to the governor’s recommendation, would be emergency or essential travel.
The governors in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut also jointly announced that all movie theaters, gyms, and casinos in the three states will be ordered closed at 8 p.m. on March 16th and will remain closed until further notice. Also, bars and restaurants will only serve take-out food for the foreseeable future.
Department of Health
- DOH COVID-19 Information page – has links to the relevant CDC information and provider/community guidance
- List of DOH Press Releases
Department of Banking and Insurance
- DOBI Bulletin 20-03 – Response to COVID-19
Department of Human Services
- DHS COVID-19 Information Page
- Certificate of Waiver of Medicaid/NJFC and Charity Care Co-payments for COVID-19 Testing and Testing Related Services/Visits
- List of DHS Press Releases
New Jersey Legislature
On the legislative level, over the weekend, Senate President Steve Sweeney announced various legislative initiatives, which could include:
1) Work in Person Waivers – There are a number of laws on the books that require certain businesses/professions to conduct business in person. This would provide a temporary waiver during the current emergency so folks can do more work at home with fewer person-to-person contacts.
2) Small Business Sales Tax Remittance Reduction – The economic fallout from the current emergency will fall especially hard on small businesses that deal in person-to-person interactions. This would allow those businesses that stay open and keep their employees on hand to retain a percentage of the sales tax that is collected from customers during and immediately after the emergency.
3) Payroll Tax Holiday –A break provided by the State would help to put more money back in the pockets of employees and employers.
4) A two month sales tax holiday for May and June, deferred property tax payments for 45 to 60 days, a 60-day deferral of sales tax payments for February and March, and interest only mortgage payments.
5) Tax Deadline Extension – The federal government has or is considering extending tax filing deadlines and waiving certain penalties and interest for late filings/payments. The Director of the Division of Taxation in New Jersey has similar powers to do the same in New Jersey, but a bill making this explicit, especially for this tax filing season would be helpful.
6) Permit Extensions – Similar to previous downturns, permits are particular concerns. A temporary extension for previously issued permits that were expected to expire during the current emergency. It would be helpful to have a commission formed that would have the express purpose of approving building/development permits on an expedited basis when the current emergency ends. This would help in getting the economy going when the current emergency ends.
7) BAC Hotline – Heavily promoting and adding additional resources to beef up the BAC hotline that is vital for small businesses. The hotline should be a point of contact for business owners and give them an outlet to raise concerns and bring forward questions that may not be answerable otherwise. It is important for businesses to have a place where they can turn.
8) Business Credit for Quarantined Workers – Many businesses are likely to have workers who need to be quarantined during the current emergency. The State will develop and offer a CBT/GIT credit for businesses that continue to pay their employees while quarantined because of an outbreak.
9) Alternative Business Calculation – The State established the Alternative Business Calculation during the Christie years which newly allowed business owners that filed under the GIT to net gains and losses from certain business related categories of income and to carry forward losses for up to 20 years. The current ABC deduction is limited to a percentage of the calculation; currently at 50% of the “business increment.” This would allow these businesses to take an increased percentage of the business increment as a deduction or to altogether remove the limits for business losses incurred during 2020 as a result of the emergency.
10) Temporary Extension of Unemployment Benefits – During previous recessions the federal government as well as the state governments have temporarily extended unemployment compensation benefits. These programs extended the time an individual might claim UC benefits (ranging from an additional 6 to 63 weeks) and had expiration dates. Some extensions took into account state economic conditions; many temporary programs considered the state’s total TUR or the state’s IUR or both. This is a tried and true method of boosting an existing program to get money into the hands of the people who need it most so that it can quickly be circulated. This time around the State has the added benefit of a UI trust fund that is much improved.
11) Nutritional Assistance Benefit Enhancements – A number of good government groups including CBPP have recommended increasing access or boosting benefits through existing nutrition assistance programs like SNAP or free and reduced school breakfast/lunches. The proposal would be to increase State spending on these programs on a temporary basis to increase the pool of people who are eligible or increase the amount of the eligible benefit individuals and families are able to claim. The same enhancements could be recommended for GA and EA benefits because the increases would deliver assistance quickly to people struggling to get by who will spend virtually all of the additional resources they receive – that is, low- and middle-income households, who spend most of the income they have.
The New Jersey Assembly is also considering legislative proposals on financial relief efforts, particularly focused on the small business community.
On March 16, the New Jersey Assembly passed 29 measures intended to protect New Jersey residents, small businesses and local governments during the coronavirus crisis, where heightening isolation measures are being encouraged to prevent the disease’s mass spread. The Assembly passed the emergency measures that the Assembly Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Committee voted through earlier in the day, known as the “COVID-19 Emergency Response Package.”
Questions can be directed to any member of the Bressler COVID-19 Task Force.