State House GOP leaders called for both houses of the New Jersey Legislature to hold a special session before Thanksgiving to approve an emergency aid package to help small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.
“Governor Murphy is right that struggling small businesses and nonprofits need immediate help, which is why we’re calling for a substantial portion of New Jersey’s remaining unspent CARES Act funds to be dedicated immediately for that purpose,” said Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-21). “It’s imperative that the Legislature take action immediately to pass a substantial aid package that would protect employers, families, and the New Jersey economy. If the Democrats are willing to rush sessions to consider marijuana legislation, there’s no reason they can’t call the Legislature in to protect millions of jobs.”
New Jersey received a $2.4 billion block grant through the federal CARES Act in April to provide emergency relief to local governments, small businesses, and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.
The Republican legislators called for an emergency session to consider S-3210, which appropriates $300 million of those federal block grant funds to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to provide financial support, such as loans or grants, to small businesses and not-for-profit organizations for the costs associated with business operation interruptions caused by any State-required closures due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of our businesses are on the brink of permanent closure if they don’t get help,” said Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21).
An analysis by the State Auditor found that the Murphy Administration had spent barely 10% of New Jersey’s CARES Act funds by the end of September.
The Governor’s recently approved FY 2021 State Budget calls for $450 million of those relief funds to be spent on State employee salaries, despite a multi-billion surplus in the budget that continues to grow.
“For months, we’ve been trying to get Governor Murphy to do the right thing and release CARES Act funds for their intended purposes of helping our economy stay afloat,” said Senate Republican Budget Officer Steve Oroho(R-24). “Instead, the governor’s biggest dedication of relief funds has been to subsidize his own administration’s spending while he’s building a massive surplus that won’t help anyone. The Legislature needs to step in and correct course to prevent unnecessary harm to New Jerseyans who have already gone through so much.”
Assembly Republican Budget Officer Hal Wirths said other states have been much more effective than New Jersey in distributing CARES Act funds.
“Other states are recognizing that waiting for additional federal action is no longer a viable option, and that the economic cost of doing nothing will far outpace the cost of expanding grant programs,” said Wirth (R-24). “The governor is still considering more restrictions after what has already been a very hard year. Expanding our state grant program would send a lifeline to thousands of local businesses that are struggling to remain open right now.”
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