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September 10, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  

Last week, we presented testimony to the Senate and Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committees offering our feedback on the proposed fiscal year 2021 budget. While it is clear New Jersey can expect tax increases across the board, we presented our findings to the Committees on the cigarette tax specifically. Governor Murphy's budget proposal includes a 61% increase in the cigarette tax from $2.70 to $4.35 a pack. Previous revenue predictions from Treasury included a prediction that this tax increase will lead to an immediate 12% drop in cigarette sales within the state. During a time when small businesses are already struggling to keep up with pandemic measures and keep customers coming back into their shops, a mandated increase in prices could spell disaster for keeping the doors open and the lights on for members of their communities. 
Combined with the rising gas tax, I fear these increased costs that New Jersey customers are facing will drive both our cigarette and gasoline sales out of state. We continue to present data to legislators that shows the gallons we lose to New York and Delaware by continuing to prohibit motorists from pumping their own gas. A choice at the pump would allow us to keep that revenue in New Jersey and would eliminate the need to raise the tax. The gas tax proved to be a topic of contention during the hearing, with many questioning the Governor and Treasurers decision to raise the tax to make New Jersey the fourth highest rate in the nation. With other costs rising to make up for shortfalls as a result of the pandemic, we continue to point out that the governor and treasurer do have discretion to abandon this plan, even though the law says that a revenue shortfall triggers an increase to the tax. We are letting every legislator know how this makes New Jersey more uncompetitive to surrounding states than we already are. This past week, I spoke with Larry Mendte on Jersey Matters on the consequences of raising the gas tax during the pandemic.  It aired Sunday morning and you can watch it on our YouTube channel HERE.
I want to put you all on alert of a very important survey that should be arriving in your inboxes. Long-standing members may notice that it is very similar to the one we asked you to fill out six years ago asking your opinion on the self-serve issue. This survey will provide us with valuable information on the status of our industry members in New Jersey and should only take about a minute of your time. Please make sure you send in your response, it is important for me to take the temperature of NJGCA members.
We have received an overwhelming response for our most recent INL/PIF Training classes scheduled for next week.
Unfortunately, we have now reached the maximum number of students and are no longer accepting registration submissions.
We would love to accommodate as many students as possible, but you will recall that State/MVC authorities limit our classes to only 12 participants. This limitation is due to a technological issue, as MVC utilizes older computer equipment to conduct the exam. This restricts our class roster and we have no option but to turn away willing participants.
That said, we are currently working on scheduling a new date for the near future. Our goal is for the next class to be held in October and/or November, but any date must first be approved by MVC. As such, if you are interested in a future INL/PIP Training Class, we'd still like to hear from you. Please email Nick at training@njgca.org. As soon as the class is scheduled we will send out a general update with the details.
Be Well -  
Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




  Training Class Schedule  

All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 4900 Route 33 West, Wall Township, NJ 07753

Two-Day Emissions Inspector Training Class
September 16th & 17th, 2020

After a long delay due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, NJGCA is pleased to announce that our training classes will resume! If you, a colleague, or an employee technician wishes to become a NJ Emissions Inspector, we can help and now is your chance! NJGCA will offer a two-day class with all the information and training you need to become a NJ Emissions Inspector.
On day one you will receive in-class instruction from NJGCA's instructor. We will break for lunch (provided), and the State will administer the written test in the afternoon. On day two will go over the hands-on test at an emission inspection location to fully prepare you for the hands-on test.
In light of the current crisis, and to protect both students and staffers, all participants must wear facemasks at all times while on the premises and respect social-distancing guidelines.




  News Around The State  

Administration Argues Nearly 10-Cent Bump at the Pump for Gas Tax Can't Be Avoided
A top official from Gov. Phil Murphy's administration defended a nearly 10-cent hike in the state's gas tax set to go into effect in just a few weeks, telling lawmakers an increase is inevitable under a formula written into state law. The uptick emerged as a hot topic Wednesday during the latest hearing on the state budget plan Murphy proposed in late August, around the same time his administration announced New Jersey's per-gallon gas-tax rate would climb by 9.3 cents on Oct. 1. The hearing provided lawmakers with their first chance to question state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio and other administration officials about the increase, which will push New Jersey's per-gallon rate up to 50.7 cents per gallon for gasoline, and 57.7 cents for diesel.

NJ Business Groups Urge Fiscal Responsibility For FY2021 Budget
Business groups today urged Gov. Phil Murphy and the Legislature to work toward a more fiscally responsible FY 2021 budget that recognizes New Jersey's economic realities. Among the calls made by the groups were the elimination of $1 billion in new taxes and a large reduction of $4 billion in borrowing proposed by Governor Murphy. NJGCA participated on this call.

'Oh Say Can You See...' Former N.J. Mayor Claims He Was Cited For Flying The American Flag At His Gas Station.
Former Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet's gas station out on Franklin Turnpike carries the blue logo of Sunoco, a red digital board showing the latest price for regular, and a very prominent red, white and blue flag of the United States of America. And while that may be patriotic, he says a display of U.S. flags in front of his business led to a summons by a long-time political rival who now occupies his former seat in town hall - which charged him with flying the stars and stripes without obtaining approval for a "temporary banner." So he did Americans do when confronted by a perceived tyrant. He went to court and sued for $50 million.

How Covid-19 Made New Jersey's Phil Murphy The Most Powerful Governor In America
Few thought Phil Murphy, his Democratic successor, would consolidate that power even further. Murphy struggled early on to move his progressive agenda through the solidly Democratic Legislature. Rival factions formed to oppose him. His signature proposal - a new tax on millionaires - was rejected twice. Now, six months into a global pandemic that's shattered the state's economy and killed roughly 16,000 residents, Murphy has become one of the most popular governors in New Jersey history - and discovered just how much say he has over the state and its government. The question is, how long can it last?

Senate Republicans To Vote On Skinny Bill Amid Stimulus Deadlock
As Congress remains deadlocked on new stimulus funding, Senate Republicans are preparing to pass their own slimmed-down version of a bill this week - without Democrats. Why it matters: Several weeks have now passed since key relief programs from the CARES Act expired and millions of Americans continue to struggle under the enormous weight of the pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he's skeptical Congress can reach a deal before November because "the cooperative spirit we had in March and April has dissipated as we've moved closer and closer to the election." The price tag being discussed could fall between $500 billion-$700 billion, sources familiar with the talks say - far short of the $2.2 trillion Democrats demand.

Two-Thirds of Small Businesses Worry They'll Close
Thirty-two percent of small business owners report that the extra unemployment benefits from the federal government made it harder to hire or re-hire workers, according to survey results released by the NFIB Research Center, an association for small businesses. However, the federal infusion has also helped support customer spending, with 9% of owners feeling like they benefited from the program that put more money in consumers' pockets. Congress is currently negotiating additional financial support for small businesses after the initial Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan period expired in early August. According to the survey, 44% of small businesses surveyed said they would apply or re-apply for a second PPP loan. Another 31% say they would consider applying for one.

Referendum Sought on California Flavored Tobacco Ban
A group is seeking a referendum to allow California voters to weigh in on the just-signed law banning the retail sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, in the state effective January 2021. As reported by NACS Daily, the California legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 793 on August 28, readying it for Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed the measure last week. Under the law, the sale of flavored electronic cigarette cartridges and flavored cigarettes will subject the retailer to a $250 fine. This comes about one year after the state of New York banned the sale of flavored tobacco.



  Energy Information Agency Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices  
Each week, the Energy Information Administration publishes a list of average gasoline prices for the previous three weeks. NJGCA will begin including this list with the Weekly Road Warrior. Remember, these prices are reflective of self-serve everywhere except NJ.


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