SWEENEY ON ECONOMY: GOVERNOR, IT’S TIME TO ACT

Senate President Senate President Sweeney speaks at a press conference on marriage equality.

Proposes Two Pieces Of Legislation Aimed At Creating Jobs

TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney today announced that he will be pushing two pieces of legislation aimed at creating jobs here in New Jersey.  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.

“We’ve still yet to see a plan from the administration on how to create jobs and grow the economy in New Jersey,” said Sweeney.  “As has been the case in the past, we are not going to sit around and wait for them to act.  People in this state need jobs now, not when the administration decides to get around to it.  I will be introducing this legislation today and will move to act on it immediately.”

The first bill, 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 legislation was passed last session but vetoed by the governor. 

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 ‘New Jobs for New Jersey Act’ is really just plain common sense. Providing incentives to people to hire those who’ve been out of work the longest is a great and easy way to reduce unemployment in the state.  The governor’s veto of this bill last session was completely misguided. Given the state’s economic condition, surely he must see the wisdom in signing this bill into law when it reaches him,” said Sweeney.

The second bill 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.

“What we are seeing is that people who have been out of work for long periods of time simply stop looking for a job.  These folks don’t just disappear.  Their families don’t just find another way to make do. That’s why we must take measures to provide opportunities, especially for the long term unemployed, to find work,” 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 Garden State, 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 will head to the Senate Labor Committee.