Sweeney Calls For Emergency Economic Summit

Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, speaks at the bill signing ceremony for his bill, S-786, sponsored with Senate Budget Committee Chair Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, which would create temporary paid family leave for workers in New Jersey.

(West Deptford) – Senate Majority Leader Stephen M. Sweeney recently announced that the Legislature should immediately convene an emergency economic summit to address the impact of the recession on New Jersey’s workers and businesses.

“New Jersey’s unemployment rate is rising. Financial titans who employ thousands of our residents are collapsing. Home foreclosures are skyrocketing,” said Sweeney. “We need the best and brightest to come together and figure out how to protect our workers and businesses during this crisis.”

Sweeney said the Legislature, in a bi-partisan effort, should convene a roundtable of experts from “across various sectors and disciplines,” including economists, business leaders, labor officials, senior administration staff, and higher education leaders.

“With all the talk about bailing out the financial giants, I haven’t heard enough about how we’re going to help workers who are just trying to pay their mortgages and grocery bills. And what about small businesses struggling to make the next payroll,” asked Sweeney.

“The emergency summit could look at what we need to do in areas such as job creation, retraining for displaced workers, financial assistance, reductions of barriers to capital investment, social services, and other areas of economic stimulus. But we need a comprehensive look, not a piecemeal approach. We need a plan.”

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Sweeney said that meetings and hearings for the summit could be done in conjunction with the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Senate Economic Growth Committee. The summit members would be required to develop a list of specific legislative proposals focused on assisting workers as well as small and large businesses.

Sweeney noted that the group could start by looking at existing resources, such as the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for assistance to homeowners, or county and four-year colleges for sources of job training and retraining for displaced workers.

However, Sweeney added, “This crisis is so significant that we need a response that is based on thinking outside of traditional government structures. We need real outside the box thinking.”

The Senate Majority Leader said, “The fall legislative session offers us the perfect opportunity to get the necessary experts together, to brainstorm, and to come up with real, concrete proposals. I will sponsor legislation recommended by the group and help to make it a reality.”

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