MORRIS COUNTY — Many bills have been introduced and passed by the legislature, but Assemblyman Brian Bergen says those measures are providing too little to remedy the self-inflicted shutdown of the state’s economy.
“Nothing is being done to consider the losses faced by shuttered businesses and people trying to put food on the table,” said Bergen (R-Morris). “The well-intended ideas by my colleagues show that they got into politics for the right reasons, but insufficient relief to less than one percent of businesses and delaying inevitable payments does not make things more affordable.”
He says that delaying short-term problems, such as paying rent, will only create larger problems down the road for struggling residents, but reducing costs on residents and businesses to address their loss of income and revenue isn’t being considered by Democrats.
Bergen has introduced multiple bills that would provide significant tax relief for small businesses, homeowners and renters. Those bills include a sales tax holiday for businesses and consumers (A3866), increasing renters’ property tax deduction to 30 percent from 18 percent (A3928), and providing a one-time standard deduction of $10,000 for middle- and lower-income filers (A3955), on which he is the second prime sponsor.
“The same unaffordable costs will only increase if they are delayed. Instead of two payments, one payment is doubled. We must, we absolutely must, lower the costs for our constituents instead of just delaying them. The expense of the government is not more important than the expense of the people,” said Bergen. “This is a zero-sum circumstance, and constituents should never end up on the wrong side of their elected officials’ decisions. We need to reflect on what really helps the people we represent.”
State relief programs were oversubscribed within the first hours as applications flooded the Economic Development Authority. Only one-tenth of a percent of New Jersey’s small businesses received relief. Federal relief programs were also quickly exhausted, despite providing $350 billion to businesses.
Efforts to save small businesses during a government-enforced shutdown have had little effect on unemployment, which has now erased all jobs gained since the Great Recession nationally. New Jersey has lost more than twice as many jobs as gained over the same period.