Sweeney Leads Launch of ‘New Jersey: Investing In You’
TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senate Democrats announced today a far-reaching economic investment initiative that will lead to a plan to generate growth and expand economic opportunities with targeted investments that will provide benefits for the people of New Jersey.
“New Jersey’s problems can be fixed, but we need a plan to do it,” said Senator Sweeney. “New Jersey has no excuse for second-rate economic growth. We have to be willing to lift our heads and work for a future that offers promise and opportunity.”
Entitled “New Jersey: Investing In You,” the plan will focus on six vital areas: early childhood education, college affordability, world class transportation, “promise neighborhoods” to revitalize communities, public-private partnerships to aid job creation and retirement security. Democratic legislators will develop specific initiatives in the targeted areas.
New Jersey’s poor economic record in recent years includes a poverty rate increase from 9.4 percent in 2009 to 11.1 percent now, a 27 percent jump in foreclosures in one year, and a drop in median income from $75,400 to $71,900 from 2009 to 2014. And, while the country regained 132 percent of jobs lost in the recession, New Jersey has recovered only 62 percent of lost jobs.
“The best way to improve our economy is to invest in the people of New Jersey by targeting key areas that will create jobs, generate economic growth and provide immediate and long-term opportunities,” said Senator Sweeney. We have to be bold enough to make the investments that are the heart of our economy to help create a more prosperous future.”
Senator Sweeney said that this is a “tried and true investment formula” that has worked in the past with investments in transportation and education that contributed to economic progress.
Investments can produce savings and generate financial benefits. Every dollar invested in early childhood education produces at least seven dollars in increased earnings, reduced education costs and savings in crime reduction. Each dollar invested in transportation produces $3.50 in direct and indirect growth in GDP. And those with a college degree earn an estimated $1.2 million in additional income in their lifetime.
To make the initiative a reality, Senator Sweeney has asked a team of Senate leaders to focus on developing specific legislative plans. Following through on the work will be Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Paul Sarlo, Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Sandra Cunningham, Senator Jim Whelan and Senator Nellie Pou.
Legislators will hold roundtables with stakeholders, policy experts, and most importantly – every day residents, worried about the high cost of tuition or the availability of child care, about the quality of their neighborhoods or the roads and railroads they travel to get to work. They will look at model programs and best practices in other cities and states, and benchmark New Jersey’s investment, competitiveness and affordability against the states we compete against for people, jobs and economic growth.
The issues and the respective Senators leading the effort:
- Early Childhood Education:
“Research shows that quality early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make in ensuring greater academic achievement, graduation rates and future earnings for our children. New Jersey became a pioneer in preschool education but too many families can’t afford the costs. We need to identify funding options with government and the private sector to expand early childhood education throughout the state. We have to ensure we have enough seats available for all children, sufficient facilities and that we are reaching all of our young people where early childhood education programs exist.” Senator M. Teresa Ruiz
- College Affordability:
“New Jersey has some of the best colleges and universities in the country but too many students and their families struggle to pay the costs. A higher education is increasingly important in order to compete in the rapidly-evolving economy. College affordability is critical to our future. We need to find ways to reduce the cost of higher education and make college more affordable for New Jersey students and their families.” Senator Sandra Cunningham
- World Class Transportation:
“Investing in a world-class transportation infrastructure is one of the best ways to provide an immediate boost to the economy and to support long-term growth and opportunity. New Jersey is a logistics state located in the epicenter of nation’s transportation network. We rely on an infrastructure that is safe and efficient. We need to renew the Transportation Trust Fund and support the funding priorities that will serve our transportation needs.” Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg
- Public-Private Partnerships:
“Job creation and economic growth are among our top priorities. Public-private partnership can be a key ingredient by leveraging private capital on large-scale undertakings to stretch scarce government dollars, creates jobs, and attract other private investors to the market. Two of our top investment priorities – higher education and transportation projects – are the areas where public-private partnerships have proven to be the most successful in other states.” Senator Jim Whelan
- Promise Neighborhoods:
“We know that too many of our children and families are living in environments where they feel they are unable to reach their fullest potential. They are in circumstances in which student achievement, secure employment, and a safe and healthy living environment seem out of reach. As part of NJ Investing in You, we will look carefully at “promise neighborhoods” where communities work together to rebuild neighborhoods block by block, tracking the outcomes of students who live there, and creating the services residents need to ensure a brighter future.” Senator Nellie Pou
- Retirement Security:
“Too many people in New Jersey face retirement with insecure incomes. This is a difficult and disturbing challenge for an increasing number of people, especially for those who don’t have pension plans. We need to do everything we can to ensure that more New Jerseyans have security in their retirement so that they can live with dignity and without financial needs.” Senator Paul Sarlo
“We have to capitalize on our strengths,” said Senator Sweeney. “We sit in the middle of a 60 million person market from Boston to Washington that is the nation’s financial, political and academic center. We are at the crossroads of its most densely packed transportation and logistical networks. We have the best K-12 school system in the nation, some of the best colleges in the country and a highly educated workforce. We can build on these attributes and make life better for the people of New Jersey.”