Murphy passes on chance to say whether N.J. will use federal funds to help replenish UI fund

Gov. Phil Murphy passed on the chance Monday to directly say whether the state would or would not use federal funding to help pay down the $1.7 billion in additional payments the New Jersey business community will need to make to help replenish the state unemployment insurance fund — but he promised the state will be “doing more” in the weeks and months ahead.

The additional payments to the UI fund will be made over the next three years, with businesses facing an additional $252 million tax for fiscal year 2022, followed by an increase of $548.6 million in 2023 and $885 million in 2024. At least 30 states have used federal funds to help in this effort.

Murphy, answering the question at his COVID-19 briefing, said the state is committed to helping small businesses.

“I signed a law several months ago that would smooth this increase out,” he said. “Secondly, no state in America per capita has put more money into small businesses than New Jersey. We’re behind only California and New York — and they’re a lot bigger than we are.

“And thirdly, folks should expect we will be doing more. So, whether it’s specific or not to the unemployment insurance question, you should know that we are constantly thinking through how we can continue to plus up help and aid to small businesses and we will do that.”

Murphy had no insights when asked if he had any intention of using federal funds to extend the supplemental $300 in additional unemployment benefits past Sept. 5, as was recently suggested by President Joe Biden.

“No news on the unemployment extension question,” he said.