Another punch in the gut for NJ small businesses (Opinion)
Almost two years ago, in March 2019, Gov. Murphy signed into law something called the New Jersey Secure Choice Savings Program Act. It requires businesses with 25 employees or more to offer and administrate, AT THEIR OWN COST, a 401(k) savings plan for their employees. This would include many small businesses like restaurants that have many of their employees on a part-time basis.
The mandate is scheduled to take effect next month but due to the pandemic shutdowns, they've extended the deadline to August. Just when many small businesses are looking forward to getting back on their feet, here comes another state mandate that they will have to deal with and pay for.
The state should mandate this for their own employees and end the pension system for new hires and anyone with less than five years in public employment. Instead, they end up putting another nail in the coffin of private sector businesses, rather than attacking the issue that makes New Jersey a very expensive place to live.
The public pension system, which is a huge drain on the budget every year and only gets worse with time, is something every New Jersey politician refuses to address. They're afraid to because of the enormous power of these public unions.
So, we have two sets of citizens. If you're in the system, you're protected and funded until you die. You may end up collecting the pension and benefits more years than you actually worked. Great deal if you can get it. The problem is too many people are getting it due to the enormity of New Jersey state government. And the problem will never get fixed because anyone promising to fix it will never get elected due to the large number of people who benefit from it.
So rather than do the hard work of addressing the issue, the Legislature and governors like Murphy keep putting the burden on businesses and those poor suckers in the private sector who aren't members of the club. It's a horrible situation and as long as governors like Murphy keep kicking the can down the road, the system will either collapse or the state will become far too difficult for private sector people to survive in. It already is and the outward migration shows that.
While this new 401(k) savings program may sound like a good thing for those not in "the club," it's more nanny-state interference on the free market and another way for the state to have more of a hand and control in your life.
New Jersey will become the 11th state to institute such a program, and yes all of the other 10 are high-tax, pension debt burdened states looking to do the same thing. This might not affect you if you don't own a small business. Or maybe it will, like all of the other state mandates. Because to survive, these businesses will have to either pass the cost on to you or cut a few employees.
This is yet another expense, regulation and roadblock for small businesses in New Jersey. They are all scrambling now to figure out how not only to stay in business, but stay "in compliance" with this new law barreling down on them. Many have questions on exactly how this will work. But guess what? Nobody in Trenton seems to have all of the answers for them. Typical!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis's own.