Four-Bill Package Focused on Workforce Training and Development, Job Creation
TRENTON – The state Senate today approved a four-bill package focused on better preparing our students for the jobs of tomorrow, creating job-training opportunities for unemployed residents and helping our small businesses expand and grow. The bills were introduced in an effort to combat the state’s decade’s high unemployment rate and to reinvigorate New Jersey’s sluggish economy.
“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.”
- S-2211, The New Jobs for New Jersey Act, sponsored by Senate President Sweeney, Senators Bob Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), would 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, 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 Senate approved the bill by a vote of 23-10.
“We have to take steps to combat our state’s high unemployment rate, and that means getting residents who are out of work back on the job,” said Senator Gordon. “This program will help provide small businesses the flexibility they need to grow their companies and expand their employee payrolls, while also ensuring that those hired are the long-term unemployed. This will benefit our residents, our small businesses and our entire state.”
“Our state’s decades high unemployment rate is not just a statistic. It means that far too many people have not been able to find work for far too long,” said Senator Sarlo. “We have to take action to grow our economy and help get people back to work. This tax incentive program will encourage small businesses to hire those who have been out of work for more than 30 days. By doing this, we will help improve our employment situation in this state but also our overall economy.”
- S-2366, sponsored by Senators Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union) and Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), 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 Senate approved the bill by a vote of 35-0.
“New Jersey residents have struggled under the severe economic conditions that we have experienced in this state in recent years. The number of people receiving public assistance for food has doubled since 2007, with nearly 1 million residents now being served by the state’s program,” said Senator Lesniak. “Under this proposal, we can better ensure that recipients will acquire the skills, the training and work experience necessary to improve their job prospects and their ability to transition off of public assistance.”
“While providing safety net programs to our residents is particularly important in tough economic times, we must also help our residents acquire the skills they need to re-enter the labor force and to work towards self sufficiency,” said Senator Vitale. “By providing job training to program recipients at our colleges, local governments and nonprofit centers, we can help them gain the experience and skills they need to find a good-paying job that will allow them to work towards financial independence.”
- 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 approved the bill by a vote of 23-13.
“The credit crunch that we’ve seen in recent years has made it difficult for small businesses to get the capital needed to grow, which 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 growing their operations and their employment levels,” said Senator Whelan. “This will help improve the jobs situation in our state and, ultimately, help strengthen New Jersey’s economy.”
“Because of the more stringent lending conditions put in place by banks after the financial meltdown, small businesses that may have previously been able to get loans are finding it virtually impossible to find willing lenders,” said Senator Greenstein. “This program will help to remove roadblocks for eligible small business owners seeking loans and help them secure the critical funding they need to grow their companies and their employment rolls.”
- S-2483, sponsored by Senators Sandra Bolden Cunningham, M. Teresa Ruiz and Fred Madden, is designed to better meet the needs of key industries in the state. 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. The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 37-0.
“One of the best ways to strengthen our economy is to ensure that our workforce has the skills they need to obtain jobs in New Jersey’s critical growth fields, from biotechnology and life sciences, to engineering and advanced manufacturing,” said Senator Cunningham, (D-Hudson) Chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee. “By bringing together the state’s educational and business leaders to assess how we can improve training, we can create programs that will help close the state’s skills gap, in the long-term improving our state’s and our residents’ economic future.”
“It is critical that our children graduate high school prepared for college or a career, but we must also make sure that our students have the skills they need to secure jobs in high-growth fields. That means better preparing them in science and math, areas where we are lagging behind our global counterparts,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex), Chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. “Collaboration between education and business is vital to improving our educational offerings and ensuring that our students are equipped to compete for the jobs of tomorrow, particularly those being offered right here in New Jersey.”
“By having the business community work in collaboration with our schools and colleges we can increase the preparation of our students and our workforce to ensure they have the education and job training necessary to obtain jobs in the state’s key industries,” said Senator Madden, (D-Camden/Gloucester) Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee. “This will help our state meet the demands of our future economy and, in doing so, strengthen our long term economic position.”