Two Additional Measures On Job Creation Clear Senate Committee
TRENTON – Continuing his push to create jobs and spur economic growth, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland) introduced a bill today that would require vendors contracting with the state for higher education purposes to purchase manufactured goods in the United States to fulfill their contracts.
“It seems like a matter of common sense that we would require public contractors to purchase their goods in the United States,” said Sweeney. “Nationwide, the economy has made great gains under the leadership of President Obama. But, we still have ground to gain and can always do what is needed to ensure our family and friends have jobs. This bill will help create those opportunities.”
Currently, New Jersey requires the purchase of goods manufactured in the United States for the fulfillment of public works contracts, local public contracts, state construction contracts and local school contracts. This bill would add to that requirement contracts by state colleges, including state universities. The bill would allow for a waiver in case the products are not manufactured in the Unites States or they are too costly (the waiver will be made public). Penalties could be imposed on a contractor who knowingly supplies products that are not manufactured in the United States.
In addition, two bills sponsored by Senate President Sweeney which look to create jobs in New Jersey cleared the Senate Labor Committee today. The first bill, S153, known as the “New Jobs for New Jersey” tax credit program, would provide incentives to small private sector employers who increase their workforce by hiring unemployed workers. The state lost approximately 36,000 jobs in December, eliminating nearly any gains made throughout 2013 and people have given up looking for work in record numbers. Spurring economic growth will be a vital element to putting New Jersey on sound fiscal footing and being able to provide crucial programs for state residents. Senators Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Bob Gordon (D-Bergen, Passaic) are also sponsors of the bill. The legislation was passed last session but vetoed by the governor.
“The ‘New Jobs for New Jersey Act’ is the perfect way to get people who’ve been unemployed the longest back into the workforce,” said Sweeney. “The governor’s veto of this bill last session was completely misguided. Given New Jersey’s economic condition, he can’t possible think it’s reasonable to veto this bill again. We have to get people back to work.”
Under the bill, an employer of 100 or fewer full-time employees would be eligible for a tax credit against the corporation business tax or the gross income tax, whichever applies, for each eligible individual they employ in the state on a full-time basis during a tax year. Among the conditions needed to qualify, the employee must have been hired prospectively in 2014, is employed full-time during the tax year for which the tax credit is provided, was not previously employed by the employer, and did not have full-time employment for 30 or more days prior to being hired by the employer.
The second bill, S1621 would give priority in terms of state-administered training programs to those who have suffered from long term unemployment. At least 50% of the training funds for displaced workers would be reserved for training and employment programs at community colleges for laid off workers who have exhausted all UI benefits. The bill is also sponsored by Senator Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex).
“People who have been out of work for long periods are simply giving up. That does not mean, however, that they and their families just find another way to provide for themselves. It’s not just about creating opportunities, but about finding jobs as soon as possible for those that have been unemployed the longest,” said Sweeney.
This legislation is important given that approximately 79,000 New Jerseyans lost their benefits at the turn of the year. This loss was due to a federal failure to extend benefits. According to the Asbury Park Press, “The loss of extended benefits has hit New Jersey particularly hard. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that 46.6 percent of New Jersey’s 328,000 unemployed workers — about 153,000, or enough to fill MetLife Stadium twice over — have been out of jobs for six months or more. In the GardenState, the District of Columbia (also 46.6 percent) and Florida (46.2 percent), nearly half of all jobless workers are considered long-term unemployed, according to the institute, a Washington, D.C.-based progressive economic think tank.”
Both bills now head to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.