Economy & The Middle Class
- Alternative Minimum Tax Relief. Introduced and enacted into law as part of the 2009 economic recovery package a one-year fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax that threatened to unfairly and unexpectedly raise taxes on middle class taxpayers. New Jersey has been the state with the highest rate of taxpayers who would be subject to paying higher Alternative Minimum Tax if no patch is passed. Before a patch was passed in the previous year, joint taxpayers earning $74,660 or more could have been subject to the paying the higher AMT. In total, more than 1.6 million New Jerseyans faced the higher tax during the previous year before the patch, and many of those were middle class taxpayers. As a long-time leader in the fight to prevent AMT hikes, Menendez worked across the aisle with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to successfully secure AMT relief for two years as part of the Finance Committee’s final tax extender package. Next, the bill goes to the floor to be voted on by the full Senate. Senator Menendez knows we need a permanent fix to this problem so that this is the last time we’ll have to deal with this piecemeal approach to the AMT. He will be a leader to ensure that tax reform tackles the AMT problem once and for all.
- Credit Card Reform. Authored major credit card reform legislation and lead collaborator on landmark 2009 reform enacted into law. Credit card reforms protect consumers from unilateral, unexpected interest rate increases; end the practice of unreasonable fees and penalties; and protect consumers under the age of 21, among other measures.
- Secured Temporary Property Tax Relief. Authored temporary property tax relief legislation in 2006, which eventually was enacted into law in 2008. This benefited homeowners in 2009 and 2010 who did not itemize on their Federal tax returns, benefiting primarily seniors on fixed incomes. Under the law, individual property taxpayers were able to take an additional standard deduction of $500 and joint filers were able to deduct $1,000 for state and local property taxes paid.
- Financial Literacy. Authored the financial literacy law, enacted as part of the landmark Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The provision fosters better financial education among prospective homeowners and help identify the most successful methods for delivering counseling services. The amendment allows states to use their administrative expenses to improve their financial education and housing counseling services and authorizes pilot projects to help determine the most effective methods for providing housing counseling and financial education.
- Energy efficiency. Created the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants program as part of the 2007 energy bill. This program, funded with $3.2 billion in the 2009 economic recovery package, helps create jobs, provide local tax relief, ensure local services and clean the air we breathe. The grants invest in energy efficiency projects undertaken by cities, towns and counties. It lowers their energy costs and provides local budget relief.
- Creation of Liberty Corridor. Secured $88 million dollars in federal investment since 2005 as the creator of the Liberty Corridor. This critical investment funded ten individual projects designed to move freight more efficiently, clear chokepoints, and help connect innovative job creators to markets around the world.
- Middle Class Tax Cuts.
- Supported the compromise tax package which provides significant tax relief to New Jersey families. All told, the average middle class household in New Jersey paid $3,555 less in taxes last year under the bill than they would have without it.
- Fought to extend the payroll tax cut for more than 160 million workers through 2012. The typical New Jersey family will save more than $1,300 this year as a result of the extension.
- Securing Jobs for Veterans. Hailed passage of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, legislation he cosponsored that combined components in the President’s American Jobs Act and additional initiatives to boost employment opportunities for veterans. It expands education and training programs, advances the Transition Assistance Program, improves the transition to a civil service job, and provides veterans with tax credits.
- Training Workers for 21st Century Jobs. Introduced legislation to provide workers, particularly the unemployed, the opportunity to learn the skills they need to acquire the jobs that are available. Modeled after successful programs for the energy and biotech industries, the Menendez proposal would create competitive tax credits to encourage workforce partnerships between businesses and colleges. The tax credit would be subject to an overall cap of $1 billion, and awards would be made through a competitive application process. The legislation would also provide a tax credit for businesses willing to train long-term unemployed workers. Of the 14 million unemployed Americans, nearly 30 percent have been out of work for one year or longer. The Menendez proposal would provide any business that is willing to train a long-term unemployed worker for an open job – either one that requires a certain type of certificate or other type of training credential -- a tax credit up to $4,000 to cover the cost of that training at a community college. Workers can access good jobs with new skills training, businesses can hire to fill their needs, and our economy can grow at a faster pace.
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