Testa Calls Out Murphy for Promises of No More Tax Increases

Pledge Has Been Violated Several Times, and is Set to be Broken in the Future

Senator Michael Testa today chided Governor Murphy for his often repeated “no new taxes” statements.

“Starting during his reelection campaign and for the past several months, the Governor has insisted he is done with tax increases. It’s a laughable promise he repeated just days ago in his State of the State address,” said Testa (R-1).

Here are some facts:

  • The tax on employers based on their payroll increased 20 percent and was collected (Oct. 30) just days before the Governor’s reelection.
  • The employee payroll tax – taken out of paycheck of every salaried employees – increased by 10 percent on Jan. 1, 2022.
  • Despite their real buying power being less than what is once was, tens of thousands of New Jerseyans were pulled into higher income tax brackets (something called “bracket creep”) because of skyrocketing inflation on Jan. 1, 2022.
  • Tolls (a different word for tax) assessed against commuters and delivery people increased yet again on Jan. 1, 2022

“He was claiming to be done with higher taxes, but Murphy was literally grabbing more taxpayer money while mouthing these promises,” said Testa. “It is hard to believe he can still say it with a straight face.”

And the tax parade is just getting started:

  • A tax increase is scheduled on employer payroll later this year.
  • Another tax increase on employer payroll is scheduled for next year.
  • A $600 million tax increase is scheduled for the near future on Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“Is the Governor done with tax increases? Clearly, he is not,” Testa said. “Murphy is testing the old saying, ‘Tell a lie often enough and people will believe it.’

“New Jersey residents deserve better. If Murphy is going to reach for the taxpayer wallet, he should be honest enough to come out and say it,” Testa said.

Testa Bill Exempting Commercial Fisherman from State Unemployment Tax Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Senator Michael Testa and signed today by the Governor exempts commercial fisherman from a portion of the state unemployment tax.

“Traditionally, New Jersey’s commercial fishermen have been on the hook for unemployment taxes, but they are not paid hourly wages and they have never been able to collect unemployment benefits,” said Testa (R-1). “This new law will have significant impact on the state’s vital fishing industry that has been extremely hard-hit by the ongoing pandemic.”

Testa’s measure (S-3501/A-5531) exempts commercial fisherman who are paid on the percentage of fish caught or a percentage of the selling price of those fish from the state unemployment law and its costly tax on earnings.

“This will allow dedicated, skilled fisherman to keep more of their hard-earned income, a change that suits the independent nature of the proud individuals who make their living at sea,” said Testa.

The Garden State’s fishing industry is one of the most robust in the United States, and the Port of Cape May consistently ranks in Top 10 in the nation.

New Jersey fisheries contribute more than $1 billion annually to the state’s economy, with some estimates doubling that total.

“The fishing industry is vitally important to the entire state, and here in the coastal communities, it is the very lifeblood of small communities up and down the shoreline,” said Testa. “After some challenging years, this new law signifies a changing tide for our fisheries.”

Testa Bill to Provide Small Employers with Tax Benefits for COVID Expenses Advances

Legislation sponsored by Senator Michael Testa that would help small businesses recoup some of the money invested to meet COVID requirements cleared the Senate today.

Testa’s bill (S-4254) would allow businesses with fewer than 50 employees a tax benefit to help compensate them for the cost of complying with the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders.

“The Governor’s orders forced thousands of enterprises to close their doors to customers while the ‘big box stores’ were able to continue with business as usual,” said Testa (R-1). “Small businesses across the state took a beating during the pandemic.

“The expenses of meeting Murphy’s constantly changing restrictions crippled employers that tried to do the right thing by investing in the equipment and guidelines ordered by Trenton, and subsequently struggled to remain solvent,” Testa noted. “This bill will provide badly needed relief for employers that have managed to remain in business.”

Under the bill, qualifying businesses would receive a “bonus depreciation” allowance of up to $150,000 for expenses resulting from compliance with health and safety requirements imposed by Murphy’s executive orders.

“This bill is a necessity if we hope to kickstart the recovery our residents are counting on,” said Testa. “The state economy continues to sputter, with a 6.6 percent unemployment rate, the third highest in the nation.

“Many small employers continue to fight for survival. This financial boost will help prevent even more bankruptcies and layoffs and put businesses in better position to get back on their feet,” Testa continued.

The bill now awaits action in the Assembly on the final day of the session.

Testa Calls for Legislators to Join Him in Voting Against Extending Murphy’s Emergency Powers

Senator Michael L. Testa (R-1) today announced his strong opposition to the proposed legislation to extend the Governor’s emergency powers for another 90 days.

“I will vote against any measure to extend this Governor’s emergency powers for one more second much less for another 90 days. Phil Murphy’s unlimited power has damaged our state, shut the doors on a third of our small businesses and harmed our residents. It is well past time for the Legislature – Republicans and Democrats – to stand up on behalf of our constituents.  I opposed this same effort last summer and the Governor’s failures and missteps have proven the wisdom of that position.

“I would ask that any member of the Legislature who is planning to vote to give the Governor another 90 days of unfettered power also submit a letter of immediate resignation at the same time. If you don’t want to do your job as a legislator, I’m sure the people of your district can easily find someone who will.”

Testa Calls Labor Department ‘Victory Lap’ an Insult to New Jersey Residents

Senator Michael Testa today lambasted New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development after the beleaguered agency issued a self-congratulatory press release boasting of its accomplishments in 2021.

“With statewide unemployment sitting at 6.6 percent, tied with New York and better than only two other states, it is certainly inappropriate timing for a victory lap,” said Testa (R-1). “The department’s embarrassing failures in processing tens of thousands of unemployment claims during the pandemic turned New Jersey into a laughingstock in the eyes of other states, and too many families continue to struggle due to the financial fallout from long-delayed benefit payments.”

Frustrated filers still cannot make in-person appointments to resolve their claims and it is unclear when those meetings might resume.

“It has been nearly two years since the start of this pandemic and the state labor department staff still can’t process unemployment claims in a timely fashion.  We have seen delays of six to eight weeks for resolution, at a minimum. Our office alone has dozens of cases which date back six months or more and we have had to escalate them to the Governor’s office itself for attention,” said Testa. “That’s not success; that’s the sound of the band playing on as the Titanic sinks.”

The press release bragged that the state had recovered “approximately 76 percent of jobs lost” in the pandemic.

“That means a quarter of jobs lost – more than 183,000 innocent victims of the virus and the Administration’s heavy-handed restrictions – remained out of work through the holiday season and are still looking for jobs,” Testa noted. “Throughout the pandemic, it was obvious the only jobs the labor department leadership was concerned about were their own.

“Not only is celebrating their ineptness silly and tasteless, but it is also an insult to New Jersey families and residents who have suffered dearly because of the department’s incompetency.”

New Pennacchio/Testa Bill Will Restore Parental Rights Above Social Agendas

Senator Joe Pennacchio and Senator Michael Testa have introduced legislation reaffirming parental rights and amending current law to prevent schools from teaching some concepts related to critical race theory (CRT) and various controversial topics to students younger than high school age.

The bill, S-2385, redresses some of the directives contained in legislation (A-4454), which was passed in the previous legislative session and signed into law on March 1, 2021.

“The term ‘unconscious bias’ is one of the key tenets of CRT. They are intent on teaching students that they are racists even if they don’t mean to be, and they are teaching this to kids as young as Kindergarten-age,” said Senator Pennacchio (R-26). “The moral and sexual upbringing of young children is the responsibility of mothers and fathers. In their effort to redraw the lines of authority and societal mores, Democrats in the Legislature have deliberately and stealthily moved toward an extreme curriculum on topics such as sexuality and critical race theory.”

“This common-sense bill reforms an out-of-control attempt to unnecessarily introduce sexuality into our kindergarten and elementary school children,” said Senator Testa (R-1). “We trust parents to know what is best for their kids in this area and believe that they should have the final say, not the woke crowd who want to insert their progressive agendas into our classrooms.”

When originally introduced, the new law would have established standards for high school education, but before it was passed it was amended to include students as young as 4 and 5 years old. Pennacchio and Testa’s bill would return the focus to higher grades.

“The Democrat legislative majority is fixated on manipulating the beliefs and philosophies of the next generation, and they are willing to trample on the rights of parent to raise their offspring,” said Pennacchio. “We want to prevent schools from teaching little kids about gender identities or deprogramming their ‘unconscious racial and sexual biases.’ Leave it to parents to decide how they want to approach these issues with their young children.”

Pennacchio and Testa introduced legislation in November, now S-598 in the current session, that would prohibit teaching critical race theory in public schools and bar public school teachers from engaging in political, ideological, or religious advocacy in classroom.

“Parental Rights” is a key component of the Senate Republican #GiveItBack initiative, which provides New Jerseyans an opportunity to tell Governor Murphy to give back everything he has taken from them. Nearly 5,000 people have already told Governor Murphy to “Give It Back” at www.giveitback.us.