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  • Writer's pictureMichael Torrissi Jr.

Perspective/Torrissi in Trenton

Assemblyman Michael Torrissi Jr. - Courtesy Photo

Driving down main street in Hammonton, I’m always struck by the number of great, local restaurants we have in our town. I have my favorites—I know you do, too—but when it comes down to it, I’m really rooting for all restaurants and all small businesses to succeed and claim their slice of the American dream.

Coming to Trenton as your state Assemblyman was a bit of a culture shock to me because it seems like, at every turn, the state government is doing things to make it harder for the little guy, especially restaurants, to thrive or even keep up in today’s modern economy.

Even after COVID, as New Jersey residents watched as one-in-three of their most beloved mom-and-pop establishments closed their doors for good, your government is still coming to small businesses and restaurants, including those in Hammonton, and demanding another pound of flesh.

I’m talking about a $300 million payroll tax increase — which works out to between $40 to $200 per employee, depending on the size of your business —that went into effect this summer. This will be the second year in a row that restaurants and other small businesses have seen a payroll tax hike. It’s also the same year that our Governor signed a budget with “no new taxes” in it…

Businesses pay the payroll tax to fund the state’s unemployment system. When COVID hit, businesses were shut down, and thousands of people were forced to go on unemployment. In turn, the state’s unemployment trust fund was drained. While most states used federal pandemic money to pay back their loans and replenish unemployment accounts, New Jersey has not and is instead looking to the same businesses, which this administration forced to close, to foot the bill.

Since we’re on the subject of restaurants, it’s worth noting that this most recent tax hit couldn’t possibly come at a worse time. Soaring costs of food and utilities, a super-tight job market and customers with less spending money in their pocket are lighting up warning signs for New Jersey’s restaurant and hospitality industry.

Politicians pay lip service to small businesses all the time. As someone who’s actually owned a business in my life, I know we depend on predictability, and that all the platitudes about “fairness” really mean very little when folks in government mandate and over-tax us.

Whether it was with COVID-19 lockdowns or this unemployment tax, the result is always a disaster when the government thinks it knows best and ignores the “little guy.”

We need to get back to the days when the state government was about a partnership with the people. We need to make sure the voice of every family and community that depends on small business is heard loud and clear in Trenton, and I will continue to be a sounding board for those principles.

Michael Torrissi Jr.

Assemblyman, 8th District



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