New Jersey, Too, Harms its Competitiveness

Speaking of the “Rich States, Poor States” economic rankings (see post below), we see that New Jersey comes in 43rd out of the 50 states. And apparently a lot of lawmakers are working to sink the state even lower.

The General Assembly last week passed by a 46-30 vote a bill mandating paid leave for employees, financed by a new payroll tax. The Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey issued a news release in reaction:

Paramus, New Jersey – The Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey (CIANJ) today criticized the New Jersey General Assembly for passing legislation that would make New Jersey only the second state with a paid leave mandate on virtually all companies. If it were to become law, A-873 would allow almost all workers to take up to six weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn or newly-adopted child or a sick family member.

The program would be funded through a tax increase on Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and a diversion of $25 million from that fund.

CIANJ opposes the measure, contending the bill would hamper NJ companies’ ability to compete, and provides another disincentive for organizations to locate to or expand within New Jersey. The Association noted companies will incur additional expense through hiring temporary staff or paying overtime to cover shifts lost while employees are out on leave. Unlike current unpaid leave laws, there is no exemption for small businesses.

“New Jersey’s job growth is the weakest in five years, yet the General Assembly has decided to impose another requirement unique to New Jersey companies,” said CIANJ President John Galandak. “Trenton should be doing all it can to help our state grow itself out of the current slump, not imposing a job-killing mandate.”

Delaware’s economic development mavens must be grinning.

A Senate vote is expected soon. New Jersey Business Matters, the Commerce and Industry Association’s blog, has been keeping close tabs on the foolhardy legislation.

UPDATE (5:25 p.m.) NJBiz explains the legislative process more fully, saying the inability to move the bill last week means it could be May before a final vote occurs in the Senate. The additional time gives business owners and anyone interested in a strong New Jersey economy an opportunity to derail the legislation, which Gov. Jon Corzine has said he will sign.

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