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Partisan Battle Over Competing Agendas [AUDIO]

Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media

While Democrats are working on job creation bills the state can’t afford nothing is being done to lower your taxes according to Assembly Republicans.

The GOP is blasting the Democrat-controlled legislature for not taking up the “important issues,” but Democrats are firing right back.

“We’ve achieved tremendous reform for the taxpayers through the bipartisan property tax cap and pension and healthcare reform,” says Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce. “This session cannot end with unfinished work on our desks. There are substantial proposals that would deliver real savings to taxpayers, but they are conspicuous by their absence from the Assembly’s agenda.”

The GOP lawmakers are calling on Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver to work with them to pass bills barring the payout of tax dollars for public employees who don’t use sick time, relieving towns from outdated, inefficient and costly Civil Service laws, removing cost-impediments for towns looking to save taxpayers money through consolidation and reforming the State’s education system.

Assembly GOP Conference Leader Jon Bramnick says, “Let’s debate these reforms on the floor right now. Taxpayers need relief and we owe them an up or down vote on legislation like this that will save them money. Ignoring these common sense solutions won’t lower taxes or create a single job,”

“It’s time for policy to trump politics and we should be working together to reduce costs for taxpayers to jump start the economy and create jobs,” explains DeCroce. “This Assembly has been on holiday for five months and today is the day to resume working for the people of New Jersey.”

Oliver says, “I think that this legislature cannot be singularly focused. This legislature is capable of juggling more than one ball at the same time……Getting people back to work is a priority of this Democratic caucus in the Assembly.”

The full assembly did approve several job creation bills yesterday including legislation previously vetoed by Governor Chris Christie but re-introduced by Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver to establish the Back to Work NJ program to create jobs and economic growth by allowing unemployed New Jerseyans to get on-the-job training from potential employers.

Oliver says “Gov. Christie and Republicans still have the time to do the right thing by joining Democrats in helping out-of-work New Jerseyans……..This is an innovative program that will allow out-of-work New Jerseyans to develop the skills to stay in the workforce even in the face of unemployment. It’s what we need to tackle this recession and help workers and businesses alike to jumpstart our economy and move our state forward.”

The initiative would cost $2-$3 million and recently week, Christie said he was opposed to spending money through supplemental appropriations because they increase the size of the State Budget.

John McKeon, Deputy Speaker of the Assembly and a member of the appropriations panel says, “Hopefully the Governor and his colleagues on the legislative side will have an epiphany understanding how important this is for New Jerseyans……I respect the Governor and his philosophies, but sometimes those philosophies play better for a national audience than they do for what’s right for New Jersey.”

Oliver’s legislation is based on the successful Georgia Work$ program. According to statistics compiled by the Georgia Department of Labor, 10,589 people participated in Georgia Works from February 2003 until January 2010. Of that number, 6,105 completed training and 3,363 were hired either during or at the end of their training. An additional 1,170 people found work within 90 days of completing training.

The bill permits an eligible laid off worker to continue receiving unemployment insurance benefits while placed in on-the-job training with an eligible employer for a maximum of 24 hours per week for up to six weeks. It also provides each trainee up to $100 per week to help defray training-related costs, including transportation, clothing and child care. The program is voluntary for both laid off workers and employers. The measure also requires the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development to monitor eligible participants and eligible employers who participate to ascertain whether the training provided by the program complies with the requirements. If the department determines that an employer has a repeated pattern of using eligible participants as unpaid labor without hiring them as employees, or otherwise fails to comply with the requirements, the department may impose penalties and shall disqualify the employer from further participation.

Legislation Assembly Democrats Al Coutinho, Dan Benson, Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway and Wayne DeAngelo sponsored to create jobs and economic development to combat New Jersey’s continued high unemployment rate was also approved by the Assembly.

The bills build upon Democratic job creation efforts and would: establish the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program tax credit incentive for New Jersey-based companies that retain and create new jobs and create a loan program within the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to help small businesses expand.

Under the new tax credit program, a business will receive a tax credit for making a minimum $20 million capital investment in a business facility and creating or retaining at least 100 full-time positions in a qualified area, but only if the project yields a positive fiscal net benefit to the state and if the business applies for the credit before July 1, 2014.

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