WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today announced that the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce has endorsed his $500 billion SMART Fund that will provide states, counties and municipalities with the direct federal assistance they need to sustain essential public services the business community and broader economy depend upon.

The senator’s bipartisan bill answers the call from Governor Phil Murphy and leaders across the state who have pleaded with the federal government for robust, flexible dollars to assist the state, counties and municipalities as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, while facing increased expenses and lagging revenues.

“The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to lay off workers or shutter and caused our economy to take a nosedive,” said Sen. Menendez. “As our state continues to respond to the public health and economic crisis, the federal government must step in and provide New Jersey and its municipalities with the resources they need to recover and jumpstart the economy. Without federal assistance, our state and cities may be forced to make cuts to public services small and big businesses rely on in order to thrive. I thank the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce for their support of my bill and for their continued advocacy for job and economic growth throughout our entire state.”

“So many employers and employees have suffered tremendously over the past few months. I appreciate Senator Menendez’s leadership during this time and his bipartisan efforts to give our state and its businesses the support they need to overcome the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Thomas Bracken. “The senator’s SMART Fund is common sense and it will provide essential services that will help businesses safely reopen, hire more employees and contribute to our state’s economy. If our federal government fails to help state and local governments, they fail to help businesses. We can’t let that that happen. I strongly urge Congress to pass the SMART Fund without hesitation so that we can get back to business.”

Earlier this week, Sens. Menendez and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) introduced the bipartisan State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act, which targets $500 billion in emergency funding to every state, county and community in the country, while prioritizing assistance to the areas with the greatest need. It is cosponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and is the only bipartisan path forward to providing states and communities badly needed, direct federal assistance. Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11) is leading the bipartisan companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The SMART Fund falls in line with requests made by the National Governors Association and 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.

The SMART Fund 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.