Last week, President Joe Biden enacted landmark infrastructure legislation that is expected to send an estimated $ 13 billion to New Jersey to help repair and upgrade our roads, bridges, transit, sewage lines. and water and our broadband Internet networks.
This injection of money will go a long way in reviving the New Jersey economy.
Now, with the return of the legislature, it’s time for our heads of state to double congressional investments in New Jersey infrastructure by releasing a substantial portion of the remaining $ 4 billion in the bailout relief fund. American to help our many struggling people. businesses are getting back on their feet.
That $ 4 billion remains inexplicably untouched and unspent, even though the money was sent to New Jersey months ago by Congress to expressly address the COVID-19 health crisis and support an economic recovery.
The business community is in desperate need of this financial assistance in order to survive and foster job creation.
Many of our neighboring states have already made strategic business investments of their US bailout dollars, putting New Jersey in an even less competitive position than before the pandemic.
The money from the US bailout must be used to:
- Provide grants to businesses still battling the pandemic-fueled recession;
- Completing Governor Phil Murphy’s âGet Back and Earnâ program, which offers employee return-to-work bonuses and workforce development dollars to help alleviate worker shortages;
- Replenish the state’s unemployment insurance fund so that New Jersey residents can continue to depend on it and employers are not inundated with tax increases to fill the fund.
Imagine the impact on our state’s economy if we were to release a significant amount of the US bailout money to help New Jersey businesses. and a $ 13 billion investment in our infrastructure simultaneously. It would be a double dose of adrenaline for our state economy.
So where do we go from here?
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce believes three things need to be done.
First, we urge our state lawmakers not to use the current lame duck session to advance ‘pet’ or personal projects and to stay focused on helping voters in dire need of financial assistance, namely the business world.
Second, lawmakers should heed the message voters sent on election day – a message summarized by the Monmouth University poll conducted just before election day, in which voters identified taxes, jobs and the economy as their main problems. There is no faster or more effective way to address the concerns of these voters than to unblock aid from the American Relief Fund.
Third, we need to ensure that federal dollars for infrastructure flow to New Jersey on a timely basis and that we allocate dollars wisely to ensure maximum positive impact on our economy and on our quality of life.
Exactly how this can be done will be a topic at the chamber’s ReNew Jersey Business Summit April 13-14 in Atlantic City.
At the summit, we will bring together experts from business, politics, education, labor, and nonprofits to discuss how New Jersey can achieve full economic recovery. One of the critical questions we will discuss is how to best manage our infrastructure investments.
We have a rare opportunity for Washington and Trenton to join hands in helping New Jersey revitalize its economy.
It’s up to our legislators to make this happen and it’s up to us to make sure they do.
Tom Bracken is CEO and Chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.