Measures Part Of Package Focused on Workforce Training and Development, Job Creation
TRENTON – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today approved three bills that would create job training opportunities for residents and provide incentives that will help small businesses expand and grow. The measures are part of a four-bill package introduced by Senate Democrats in response to the state’s decade’s high unemployment rate and the need to create job-training opportunities in New Jersey and to get residents back to work.
“New Jersey’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the country, so we can’t just sit by and hope things will get better,” said Senate President Sweeney. “In three years the governor has failed to put forward any kind of plan to create jobs. The Legislature, in the meantime, has put forward dozens of bills that would have created jobs and we are moving forward with more. We hope to have bipartisan support moving forward, because too many people in our state just cannot find a job.”
Sponsored by Senate President Sweeney, Senators Bob Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), the New Jobs for New Jersey Act will encourage small businesses to hire those who have been out of work for 30 or more days by providing them with a credit on their payroll taxes. Under the bill (S-2211), any business that employs 100 or fewer full-time people would become eligible for a tax credit against either their corporate business or gross income tax, whichever applies to them, for each unemployed person they newly hire. The Budget Committee approved the bill today by a vote of 8-4-1.
“We have to get our unemployment rate down, and the only way that will happen is if businesses hire those who are out of work. This bill helps our small businesses expand their employee rolls while also helping the long-term unemployed find a job,” said Senator Gordon. “At the end of the day this will help our residents while also strengthening our state’s small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy.”
“One of the state’s most glaring and most troubling economic problems is unemployment. With an unemployment rate that is the highest it has been in decades, and well above the national average, we have to focus on spurring job creation and getting our residents back to work,” said Senator Sarlo. “This tax incentive program will give small businesses the resources they need to expand and grow, while at the same time getting residents off of unemployment and back on the job.”
Sponsored by Senators Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union) and Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), the second bill (S-2366) would create a workforce training program to help recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) acquire the skills, training, work and experience necessary to obtain regular employment. The bill would create the SNAP Employment and Training Provider Demonstration Project within the Department of Human Services, under which the department would be required to partner with qualifying agencies such as local governments, non-profit agencies and institutions of higher education, to provide SNAP recipients with the training and employment supports necessary to help them re-enter the workforce and reduce their dependency on public assistance. The program would qualify for federal reimbursements pursuant to the “Food and Nutrition Act of 2008,” under which 50 percent of qualifying agencies’ demonstration project expenditures could be reimbursed. The bill was approved today by Senate Budget Committee by a vote of 13-0.
“The severe economic circumstances in this state have taken a toll on New Jersey’s families. Due largely to joblessness associated with the recession, the number of SNAP recipients in the state has doubled since 2007,” said Senator Lesniak. “This program will help recipients acquire the skills, the training and work experience necessary to obtain employment, which will allow them to reduce their dependency on public assistance and to achieve improved financial security.”
“The unemployment problem in our state has forced many people to turn to public assistance in order to put food on the table for themselves and their families,” said Senator Vitale. “While we help our residents get through these difficult times, we also must offer them the tools they need to re-enter the workforce and to work towards self sufficiency. By partnering with colleges, local governments and nonprofits to provide training to program recipients, we can help to improve their chances of finding a well-paying job that will allow them to work towards financial independence.”
The third bill, (S-2473) sponsored by Senators Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) and Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer) would create a small business loan guarantee program in the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The program would provide loan guarantees for private market rate loans of up to $250,000 to small businesses that commit to increasing their full-time employee level by 10 percent or 1 employee if the business employs less than 10 employees. The guaranteed loan funds could be applied to any aspect of the eligible small business that supports the businesses’ capital purchases and operating expenses, including, but not limited to, employee training and salaries for new positions. The Senate Budget Committee approved the bill by a vote of 8-4-1.
“The tightening of credit standards that has taken place in recent years has prevented the growth of small businesses, and, as a result, has contributed to the weakness of the job market in New Jersey. This loan guarantee program is designed to minimize risks for banks, making them more likely to lend to eligible small businesses interested in expanding their operations and employment levels,” said Senator Whelan. “This will go a long way to help improve the jobs situation in our state and, ultimately, to help reinvigorate New Jersey’s economy.”
“The more stringent lending conditions put in place by banks after the financial meltdown has made it extremely difficult for many small businesses to get loans. We have to do more to assist entrepreneurs in expanding their businesses, which in turn will mean expanded job opportunities for our residents,” said Senator Greenstein. “This program will help to remove barriers for eligible small business owners seeking loans and help them secure the critical funding they need to grow.”
The final bill in the package, S-2483, designed to better meet the needs of key industries in the state was approved in January by the Senate Higher Education Committee. The measure would establish the “New Jersey Workforce Development and Education Commission,” which would work to develop recommendations for increasing the preparation of New Jersey students to meet future workforce needs. The Commission would receive input from two Advisory Boards: an Education Advisory Board and a Business and Workforce Advisory Board, and would be required to report its findings and recommendations to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
All four bills now head to the full Senate.