State Senators are looking to push legislation that will help small businesses attempt to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Senate Economic Growth Committee recently advanced legislation (S-3418) sponsored by State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-11) and Nicholas Scutari (D-22) that would provide a tax credit to qualified small employers in industries that were particularly impacted by the public health emergency. The employers would be allowed a tax credit for wages paid to qualified employees, and would be available for taxable years beginning or privilege periods ending in 2020 and 2021.
In a separate measure, State Sens. Troy Singleton (D-8), Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-5) and Michael Testa (R-1)’s legislation that would allow owners of small businesses to deduct purchases made to maintain health and safety compliance for the coronavirus pandemic from their corporation business and gross income taxes was recently passed by the senate’s Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Business During Pandemic
“Small businesses have suffered immensely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When they were able to open their doors to patrons, they had to completely redesign their spaces for safe accommodations and purchase supplies to keep their customers and their staff safe—all of which were out of pocket costs,” said Singleton. “The goal of this legislation is to give back to them what they had to spend to reopen during a time of such financial uncertainty, and to make running a small business in New Jersey more affordable.”
In the Gopal/Scutari proposed law, the tax credits would go to a small employer who had an average weekly number of full-time employees of not more than 100 employees during the taxable year.
“Across the board, New Jersey’s small business sector sustained considerable losses during the course of the COVID-19 health emergency,” said Gopal. “Small employers had to cut workers, hours and services. Many of these establishments didn’t survive at all, and those who did continue to fight an uphill battle to get their businesses back up running and fully staffed.”
“These tax credits will provide a measure of relief to help ensure this most vital part of our state’s economy makes a full and speedy recovery.”
Under the bill, the credit would be equal to 10% of wages paid by the qualified small employer to a qualified employee.
“Small businesses keep New Jersey running. They provide solid, good-paying jobs to local residents, and enliven and stabilize our communities. Many of these businesses answered the call above and beyond during the worst months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this tax credit will provide them a bit of a cushion as they continue to rebuild and rehabilitate their businesses,” said Scutari.
As for the Singleton/Cruz-Perez/Testa measure, S-4254 would establish a bonus depreciation allowance under the corporation business tax and the New Jersey gross income tax for purchases made to maintain health and safety compliance during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many businesses, especially small businesses, to pay—out of pocket—for items to maintain social distancing protocols, such as plexiglass barriers, additional outdoor seating areas, outdoor heaters and more,” said Cruz-Perez. “We want to ensure that these businesses are able to get a return on the investment they had to make to serve the public.”
Testa added the financial boost will help prevent even more bankruptcies and layoffs and put businesses in a position to get back on their feet.
“Small businesses across the state took a beating during the pandemic,” said Testa. “The expenses for meeting (Gov. Phil) Murphy’s constantly changing restrictions crippled businesses that tried to do the right thing by investing in the equipment and guidelines ordered by Trenton, and subsequently struggled to remain solvent. This bill will provide badly needed relief for employers that have remained in business.”
As of Dec. 29, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,288,136 with 20,483 total new PCR cases—breaking another single day high. There were 6,590 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 207,218. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,495,354.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 50 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 26,118. The state listed probable deaths at 2,849, bringing the overall total to 28,967. State officials noted 35 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Dec. 29, Bergen had a total of 2,728 new confirmed cases and 639 new probable cases, Essex 2,985 new cases and 447 new probable case, Hudson 1,786 new cases and 238 new probable cases, Morris 1,165 new confirmed cases and 327 new probable cases, Passaic 1,636 new cases and 364 new probable cases, Sussex 254 new cases and 92 new probable cases, and Warren 217 new cases and 79 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,900, followed by Bergen at 2,753, Hudson with 2,212, Passaic at 1,860, Morris at 1,077, Sussex at 296, and Warren County at 251.
In regards to probable deaths reported Dec. 27, Bergen has 312, Essex has 310, Morris has 270, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 73 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,957,600 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Dec. 6, 68,913 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated (1.16%). Of those 1,513 have been hospitalized and 350 COVID-related deaths—less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5, breakthroughs accounted for 22.5% of all new cases (6,082 of 27,036), 2.0% of new hospilizations (24 of 1,198), and 0 of the 116 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Dec. 29, it climbed to 1.76 from 1.73 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Dec. 24 was 28.0%; by region, the rate was 30.4% in the North, 26.0% in the Central region and 24.1% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 3,273 patients hospitalized as all of the 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Dec. 29—its highest mark since Jan. 22. By region, there were 1,546 in the North, 971 in the Central and 756 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 514 are in intensive care units and 261 on ventilators. A total of 441 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
According to the state dashboard with 61% of all New Jersey schools reporting, new student cases totaled 7,716 and new staff cases 2,092 in the last week as of Dec. 19. Cumulatively, 34,331 cases have been reported— 44,532 students and 10,274 staffers.
The vaccination rate for teachers in the Garden State is 84.6% overall. In North Jersey counties, Bergen was tops at 89.9%, followed by Warren at 86.9%, Morris at 86.6%, Sussex at 85.8%, Passaic at 85.2%, Essex at 81.6%, and Hudson at 76.7%, the lowest county in the state.
In regards to outbreaks related to in-school transmissions as of Dec. 29, the state has tracked 373 school outbreaks and 1,889 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 37 outbreaks and 234 cases from the week previous.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey in the new report, Bergen County has 40 confirmed outbreak with 205 cases, Morris County has 31 confirmed outbreaks with 190 cases, Passaic County has 19 confirmed outbreak with 170 cases, Sussex has 28 confirmed outbreak with 150 cases, Essex County has 19 confirmed outbreak with 110 cases, Hudson County has 17 confirmed outbreaks with 66 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 354 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,597 of the cases, broken down between 1,713 residents and 2,884 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,139 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 35,519 residents and 25,891 staff, for a total of 61,410.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,765 on Dec. 29. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,071 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,966,561 in-state, plus an additional 509,038 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,475,599 as of Dec. 29.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,198,404 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 212,767 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,411,171.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 1,147,739 for Pfizer and 977,339 for Moderna. A total of 46,747 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,171,825 have received a booster or third shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 680,814 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 546,996, Hudson 488,701, Morris 367,928, Passaic 333,260, Sussex 88,318, and Warren 57,489.