A new bipartisan package of bills would require New Jersey governments, colleges and transportation authorities to buy products made in America for every public project, even if they cost more than foreign goods.  

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"When you look at the cost here of the job loss, the loss in taxes, the stress on social programs, it's cheaper to buy a product here," said bill co-sponsor, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford). "What we're calling on is for all of our authorities and colleges to buy American. New Jersey and the United States are going to become a manufacturing powerhouse again."

Garden State governments are already required to buy American-made products, but the bills expand on that law by requiring the same from bi-state agencies. That would require legislation to be passed in neighboring states too.

"This allows us all to come together and gravitate towards a central theme of creating jobs here in New Jersey and across this country," said co-sponsor Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R-Wayne).

One bill would require vendors contracting with state agencies, including state colleges, to buy products manufactured in America to fulfill their contracts. The other bills would require the same thing for the Delaware River Joint Toll Commission, the Delaware River and Bay Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Delaware River Port Authority.

"When you buy American you invest in this country," said Charlie Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. "You invest in our state. You invest in our towns and our communities and most importantly you give our people work."

The bill does allow entities to buy foreign-made products if the product isn't available in America, and if buying American-made would cost 25 percent or more than buying a foreign-made good.