WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today announced that the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) has endorsed his bipartisan bill that will provide much needed economic relief to states and municipalities to ensure they can continue providing the public services that businesses across the state rely on. As state and local governments respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and face increased expenses, the senator’s $500 billion SMART Fund will provide the state, counties and municipalities with a direct infusion of federal funding to prevent cuts to essential services and mass layoffs of nurses, EMTs, firefighters and sanitation workers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for New Jersey families, communities and businesses,” said Sen. Menendez. “As we continue to battle this virus, we must ensure our communities have the federal support to keep residents safe and help businesses reopen and thrive once again. New Jersey has always been a great place to start and build a business, and I am confident that if we give them the support they need to grow and prosper, our business community will overcome the current challenge. I thank the NJBIA and its members for their support and commitment to moving New Jersey’s economy forward.”

“New Jersey’s businesses are strong, resilient and they will make a comeback, but they can’t do it alone,” said NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka. “Senator Menendez’s SMART Act will provide state and local communities with the robust federal funding they need to ensure we can revitalize our businesses which will catapult the economy in the right direction. Additionally, the flexible funding provided in the SMART Act will help New Jersey avoid state and local tax increases, and borrowing, that would otherwise create additional burdens for our economy. Together, the provisions of the SMART Act can rebuild our communities, our businesses and boost our economy.”

Last month, 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:

  • One-third to eligible entities based on population size to ensure they each receive additional federal resources to meet their growing needs
  • 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
  • One-third to eligible entities based upon state revenue losses relative to pre-COVID-19 projections to target the urgent economic challenge.

The SMART Act is also supported by the National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Realtors, National Troopers Coalition, Amalgamated Transit Union, New Jersey Association of Counties, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey chapter of the Communications Workers of America, and the New Jersey Police Benevolent Association.

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