NJ Assembly Democrats To Focus On Jobs And The Economy [VIDEO/AUDIO]
In less than two weeks, Assembly Democrats plan to post roughly 20 job creation and economic development bills up for a vote in the full Assembly.
Governor Chris Christie has already vetoed some of the measures, but Democratic leaders call this their "second bite at the apple." The Democrats are hoping the bi-partisanship spawned by super-storm Sandy will help advance the legislation which they say comes with a price tag of $20 million.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver says, "We will be throwing out a hand of bipartisan participation and cooperation." She's hoping to meet with Christie and talk about the package of bills.
Oliver says that even before Sandy hit, "We already faced a need to focus on job creation and economic growth, and that need is now exacerbated. What we need is this multi-pronged approach to reinvigorate our economy."
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald explains, "We need to not only create jobs to get New Jersey's economy going in the right direction, but we need to create jobs that are better than the ones we've been adding. We need to rebuild our middle-class and our state together."
Despite the call for bi-partisanship, Greenwald is also critical of Christie. He says, "Now we are three years into the Administration of Governor Christie and the economic results so far are troubling. Governor Christie talks a (good) game about the fundamentals of economy, but the reality is the outcomes are atrocious. No amount of press conferences or talking points is going to obscure the fact that in the last three years New Jersey's economy continues to get worse."
"It's unacceptable to have an unemployment rate nearly 2 points higher than the national average," says Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski. "We need once and for all a concerted effort by everyone to create jobs and economic activity while we also focus on rebuilding after Sandy. The Assembly is ready to take action, and we're hopeful others will be more willing this time to join us for the benefit of all New Jersey residents and businesses."
Some of the bills expected to be considered in committee this Tuesday and voted on December 17 include; revised legislation sponsored by Oliver to create the Back to Work NJ job creation and economic growth initiative. Governor Chris Christie vetoed previous versions of the bill, but the Speaker remains committed to fighting for its passage; the New Jobs for New Jersey tax credit program to provide incentives to small private sector employers who increase their workforce by hiring unemployed workers; various bills to support veteran-owned businesses and businesses that employ veterans and to help veterans find work; and a bill to provide tax credits for investing in New Jersey's emerging business technology sector.
Assembly Budget Committee chairman, Vinnie Prieto says, "Recovering from Sandy must include a vigorous job creation and economic development initiative. The two must go together. Our lagging economy and high unemployment was a concern before the storm, and it remains so now, so let's get this done for the good of everyone in New Jersey."
Christie's spokesman, Michael Drewniak says, "We'll take a look at it. But any such bills package should be a true bipartisan effort, not part of a partisan campaign, and be realistic in terms of cost, funding and effectiveness. Given our shared experience and new demands posed by Hurricane Sandy, most New Jersey residents are acutely aware of the need to be fiscally prudent and non-partisan on these matters."