Jobs, take two: Senate committee moves on new jobs package

TRENTON – In their second attempt to tackle unemployment and a tanked economy, Senate Democrats approved several pieces of their legislative jobs package out of committee today.

The two things people talk to him about, above all else,are “their property taxes and their jobs,” said Chairman Paul Sarlo, (D-36), of Wood-Ridge. But the last package approved by the majority Democrats earlier this year was, by and large, vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Many of those same bills are back in this package. “Some of them may have an impact; some of them may not have an impact,” Sarlo said. “We’re doing the best we can down here on job creation.”

The foremost bill, S3080, the “Back to Work NJ Program,” was approved today, reduced from a $10 million appropriation the first time around to a $3 million job-assistance fund this time. It was approved, 8-3, along party lines.

“It’s a way to connect the unemployed,” said sponsor state Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14), of Plainsboro, “with jobs that are actually available.”

The state assistance allows for small stipends for things like job transportation costs or babysitting, she said.

Another bill, S3066, would permit small, women-owned, or minority-owned businesses located in designated regional centers to qualify for loans from the state Economic Development Authority (EDA). Sponsored by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), of Teaneck, it was unanimously approved, 10-0.

A bipartisan bill, S3079, makes permanent the already-operating N.J. Business Action Center, a measure favored by the N.J. Business and Industry Association and the N.J. Chemical Council at the meeting today. The bill, which also requires the state to provide competitive intelligence information to certain businesses, was approved, 9-1.

Other bills passed today include S3081, which establishes a “linked deposit program” allowing the state to deposit funds at below-market interest rates with certain banks; S3072, which directs the EDA and Commission on Higher Education to promote the establishment of higher education and business partnerships; and S3089, the Fresh Food Access Act.

  Jobs, take two: Senate committee moves on new jobs package