The news in North Jersey was dominated before Christmas by two separate by equally important legislative accomplishments in Trenton and Washington.
Congress was finally able to pass a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill that includes $600 direct payments to individuals and families, enhanced unemployment benefits, small business aid, and funding for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Concurrently, state lawmakers were able to get a $14 billion corporate tax break bill that backers say will spur growth in the Garden State. The New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 is slated to restore and reform two incentive programs aimed to encourage redevelopment projects and job creation, numerous targeted tax breaks for brownfield remediation, historic preservation and eliminating food deserts in low-income communities.
While the top line numbers of $900 and $14 billion are staggering, the key numbers for us are who voted for these legislative initiatives.
In New Jersey, the Assembly passed the Economic Recovery Act 68-11, while the State Senate voted 38-1 in favor.
And in Washington, the voting margins were 359-53 in the House and 91-7 in the Senate.
The passing of these two huge legislative items proves when a common purpose can be found, things that can benefit the average citizen can be obtained.
While we would argue getting these two bills passed took too long, we realize getting bipartisan bills passed requires negotiations and compromise. And while that leads to impatience and frustration for priorities you deem important, the end result is those most affected by the coronavirus in the short term will now not have to worry about being evicted from their homes, receive money to pay to put food on their table and an eye to the future where good jobs in New Jersey will be available.
As we ride into the sunset of a year that battered and tore apart our country, the last week and the promise of an expanding COVID-19 vaccine program are reminders when our elected officials work together, big things can be accomplished.
Or as Rep. Josh Gottheimer stated last week, “Coming together, understanding that we should not let perfect be the enemy of the good, and that the American people should always come before partisan politics. This is about actually governing. It is not the one that gets you clicks, but it is how you get a bill done.”