TRENTON – Assembly Democratic leaders say it’s time to put the focus back on improving the state’s economy following the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver held a Tuesday news conference along with other top Assembly Democratic leaders to announce plans to introduce more than 20 bills focusing on job creation and economic development initiatives for the state.
“As we conducted our tour last week (of areas struck by Sandy), … one thing has remained constant for us in New Jersey and that is that our unemployment rate continues to hover at 10 percent,” Oliver said during the news conference.
“We know that everyone wants to dive in head first … and start rebuilding,” she said, adding, though, that there must be a focus on “getting New Jerseyans back to work.”
The top Assembly lawmaker said Democrats are “throwing out a hand of bipartisan participation and cooperation” with the administration to “sit down with the General Assembly and let us revisit many of those bills that we know will lead to growing and expanding and creating jobs immediately in this state.”
Despite a focus on bipartisan support for the proposals, some of which were previously vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie, Democratic lawmakers were quick to point to the economic conditions in the state prior to the storm hitting the Jersey coast, arguing support for the proposals now would alleviate New Jersey’s economic woes.
“The reality is, though, that the Sandy cleanup will be temporarily (economic) relief and it ignores the fact that going into this tragedy New Jersey was already facing one of the worst economies in the country,” said Assemblyman Louis Greenwald.
“Now we are three years into the administration of Gov. Christie and the economic results so far are troubling. Gov. Christie talks a game about the fundamentals of economy, but the reality is that the outcomes are atrocious,” he said.
When Oliver and Greenwald were asked about their level of optimism over bipartisan cooperation on the bills, both responded by saying the aftermath of the storm should pave a way for bipartisan cooperation.
“No person who possesses a position of leadership in this government can politicize the work that needs to be done (following Sandy). So you ask what happened in the past in terms of lack of cooperation, … I think it was a different political environment,” Oliver said. “I think that the issue is New Jersey and what is best for New Jersey.”
Greenwald echoed similar comments.
“None of us said nor did I say that everything the governor has done was atrocious, but we cannot hide from the fact that New Jersey’s economy and the fundamentals of our economy are atrocious,” he said, adding that Democrats applaud the governor for his work following Sandy and hope he will be willing to work equally with New Jersey Democrats as Christie has done with President Barack Obama following the storm.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) laughed off the event.
“I never got a call,” he said. “This looks like the post-Sandy partisan press conference.”
Oliver, who sat down with Christie Monday, said she did not discuss her plans to introduce the bill package during their conversation.
Assembly Democrats provided a list of bills and said that they expect many of the proposals to be voted on during the Assembly’s Dec. 17 session. The list is as followed:
Introduced – Revised “Back to Work NJ” Program (This bill would modify original model for the Back to Work program and make a major change: instead of a $100 weekly stipend, there would be a $50 weekly stipend and a transit pass getting participating workers from their nearest point of transit to the workplace. The appropriation is scaled back to $1.5 million.)
— To be introduced – Authorizes Establishment of Employer-Employee Co-Managed Manufacturing Corporation
— To be introduced – Concerns Enforcement, Penalties and Procedures for Law Regarding Failure to Pay Wages
— A-1084 – “New Jersey Angel Investor Tax Credit Act”; Provides Credits Against Corporation Business and Gross Income Taxes for Investing in New Jersey Emerging Technology Business
— A-1133 – Authorizes Local Public Contract Set-Aside Program for Business Enterprises that are Owned by or that Employ Veterans
— A-1177 – Directs New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Commissioner on Higher Education to Promote the Establishment of Higher Education and business Partnerships
— A-1272 — Allows corporation business tax credit and gross income tax credit for certain wages paid to qualified interns in tax years 2012 and 2013.
— A-2005 – Provides Corporation Business Tax and Gross Income Tax Credits for Qualified Investment in Certain Biotechnology Businesses
— A-2014 – Established Helmets to Hardhats Pilot Program in New Jersey Turnpike Authority
— A-2015 – Establishes “New Jersey Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program” in DOE to Fund Non-Traditional STEM Program
— A-2122 – Permits Small, Women or Minority Owned Businesses Located in Designated Regional Centers to Qualify for Loans from EDA as if Located in Designated Urban Center
— A-3270 – Requires Commissioner of Education to Develop Career Exploration Report for Students in Grades 8 through 12
— A-3312 – New Jobs for New Jersey Act
— A-3321 – Amends “Administrative Procedures Act” to Require State Agencies to Use Various Electronic Technologies in Rule-Making Procedures
— A-955 – Establishes the Workforce Shortage Loan Redemption Program
— ACR-162 – Urges Congress to Use Tax Incentives to Reward Companies that Bring Jobs into United States and to Use Tax Penalties for Companies that Move Jobs out of United States
— A-3049 – Allows Certain Business Combinations Between Resident Domestic Corporations and Interested Stockholders
— A-3050 – Allows Corporate Shareholder Meeting Participation by Remote Communication and Clarifies Remedies for Dissenting Shareholders
— A-3123 – Revises Law Concerning Derivative Proceedings and Shareholder Class Actions
— ACR-168 – Amends Constitution to set minimum wage at $8.25 per hour with annual adjustments for inflation