WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today announced that the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) endorsed his state and local aid bill that will provide $500 billion to state, counties and municipalities as they respond to the public health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The senator’s bipartisan SMART Fund, which answers the call of Governor Phil Murphy and leaders across the state, will ensure governments at all levels can continue providing the essential services the public relies on.

“Our firefighters and other first responders have protected the health, safety and well-being of all New Jerseyans before and during the pandemic and we must ensure they can continue to do so well after it ends,” said Sen. Menendez. “My bipartisan legislation will provide states and local governments with an infusion of direct federal assistance that will keep firehouses fully staffed with the tools, equipment and resources they need to continue protecting their communities. I appreciate the dedication of PFANJ and all their members and for their support for my commonsense SMART Fund.”

“Now more than ever we must support the men and women on the frontlines of this pandemic,” said Steve McConlogue, PFANJ President. “If the federal government fails to act, fire departments up and down the state will be faced with layoffs and understaffing, which puts families, businesses and entire communities in danger. I thank Senator Menendez for crafting this critical piece of legislation and for his continued support of New Jersey’s firefighters. I strongly urge Congress to come together and pass this bipartisan bill that will provide much needed relief to our local governments during this unprecedented time.”

PFANJ represents 3,000 first responders, including firefighters and emergency medical personnel, across New Jersey. PFANJ is the state affiliate of the International Association of Firefighters, which represents 320,000 firefighters and EMS workers across America and Canada.

The State and Municipal Aid for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Fund, which is co-authored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), builds upon the existing $150 billion set aside in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help states and local governments. It increases flexibility for states and local governments to use the funds to plug revenue losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and targets additional funding toward coronavirus hot zones to combat the pandemic head-on.

Specifically, the SMART Fund, which falls in line with requests made by the National Governors Association, would deliver funding to state and local governments, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia in three equal tranches based upon a new formula that takes into consideration areas of the country with the greatest need:

1) One-third to eligible entities based on population size to ensure they each receive additional federal resources to meet their growing needs

2) One-third to eligible entities based upon the number of COVID-19 cases relative to the U.S. population to target the urgent public health challenge

3) One-third to eligible entities based upon state revenue losses relative to pre-COVID-19 projections to target the urgent economic challenge.