WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today announced that the New Jersey chapter of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) has endorsed his bipartisan $500 billion proposal to provide economic relief to frontline state and local governments as they face potential service cuts and layoffs of essential public workers due to rising costs to combat COVID-19 and plummeting revenues. State and local leaders have called for direct, robust and flexible federal funding as they experience increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and plunging revenues.
CWA-NJ is the state’s largest public sector union, representing over 40,000 state and 15,000 county and municipal workers, and thousands more in the telecommunications and direct-care industries. New Jersey is one of the national CWA’s major employers.
“CWA members provide essential public services across our state and keep New Jersey running each and every day, and especially during this pandemic. I appreciate their hard work and dedication,” said Sen. Menendez. “Our residents rely on the services provided by CWA members and we must keep them on the job during this challenging time. The SMART Fund will provide the state, counties and municipalities with the federal funding they need to maintain vital services and keep thousands of essential employees working across New Jersey.”
"CWA Public employees are on the frontlines of this pandemic working in public safety, healthcare, unemployment, emergency social services, child protective services, transportation services and more. Without federal funding there will be no way to maintain these critical public services,” said CWA-NJ State Director Hetty Rosenstein. “Senator Menendez's commonsense SMART Fund will avert a crisis and allow our members to continue to serve not only their own families - but all families.”
The State and Municipal Assistance 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.