Working men and women are the backbone of our state and country – and they are the reason our economy is so resilient. Because of their productivity, we will be able not only to complete an economic recovery, but we will be able to build an even stronger, more secure economy for the 21st Century. It is imperative that these members of our workforce can find good-paying jobs, are paid fair wages, are protected by fair labor standards and are able to freely join a union that can defend their rights.
During his career in public service, Senator Menendez has made it a priority to stand up on labor issues on behalf of working New Jerseyans. From ensuring workers earn a living wage to guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, from protecting jobs to creating jobs, he has approached economic issues with the understanding that when working and middle class New Jerseyans are prospering, everyone wins.
The Great Recession that began in 2007 ultimately cost our nation more than 8 million jobs, creating the worst labor market we have seen in generations. While we have made some progress, we still have a long way to go before we fully recover, and that is why Senator Menendez will continue to advocate for legislation that will get Americans back to work and generate economic prosperity.
- Economic Recovery and Job Creation. Championed the economic recovery package, which created or saved millions of jobs and helped keep the economy from falling into a full depression. This included billions of dollars invested in New Jersey to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, put teachers back in the classroom, and provide tax relief to middle class families and small businesses.
- Teacher and First Responder Jobs. Supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Education Jobs Fund, which together have kept thousands of New Jersey teachers in the classrooms and off the unemployment lines. In addition, the Senator introduced the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, which would have provided $35 billion to create or protect nearly 400,000 additional education jobs and thousands of first responders’ jobs. Particularly, this would give $831 million in funds to New Jersey to support up to 9,300 educator, police, and firefighter jobs.
- 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.
- Surface Transportation. Helped author legislation to bring record transit formula funding to New Jersey. As the Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, which has jurisdiction over mass transit, Senator Menendez helped pass MAP-21, a bipartisan surface transportation bill that will protect and create over 3 million jobs, including over 50,000 in New Jersey. The Senator also helped guarantee New Jersey $70 million more per year in federal formula mass transit funding that will allow NJ Transit to expand service without raising fares.
- Rebuilding America’s Aging Water Systems. Authored bipartisan legislation to allow local communities to leverage private capital markets in combination with other financial mechanisms to finance water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Many New Jerseyans are all too familiar with the increasing frequency of water main breaks that unexpectedly flood random areas, disrupting businesses, transportation, and the lives of so many on any given day. Creating private sector jobs to ensure American families have reliable access to clean water is a win for our workers, taxpayers, and the communities we live in.
- Creating More Biotechnology Jobs. Successfully included a $1 billion biotechnology program in the Affordable Care Act. Due to the economic downturn, many emerging life science companies with a great idea but no revenue have been struggling to raise the necessary capital to survive. Senator Menendez’s Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Credit injected $1 billion of much-needed capital into small biotechnology businesses that had made investments to develop promising new therapies to treat or prevent costly and chronic diseases. New Jersey finished with the 3rd most funding of any state. In fact, companies from New Jersey received $52 million from the program for over 230 innovative projects at 133 small biotech companies.
- Rebuilding Our Communities. Strongly supported Build America Bonds program. This program puts construction workers devastated by the great recession back to work by making the long overdue investments in our infrastructure. This program supported state and local investments in critical infrastructure projects and job creation. New Jersey saw significant investment driven by Build America Bonds as the program facilitated 33 infrastructure projects in the state by attracting $7 billion in private investment. This program put thousands of people to work across New Jersey rebuilding highways, and facilities desperately in need of work.
- Supporting Invention and Innovation. Helped to pass the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act into law which would provide a major boost to New Jersey small businesses and entrepreneurs. Senator Menendez led the fight to include a provision within the law that would prioritize applications for innovative technologies. The Patent Office’s current pilot program on green technologies has allowed patents to be granted more quickly than the average 2 to 3 year wait. Senator Menendez’s amendment would expand the program to expedite patents of vital national importance or patents that help our nation’s economy. It would also make the program permanent.
- 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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