President Joe Biden’s stimulus bill will bring billions of dollars in federal aid to the Garden State. The American Rescue Plan Act will provide much-needed support to school districts, small businesses, nonprofits and childcare centers.
Now the question becomes, who gets what?
A trio of state lawmakers representing District 24 are urging Gov. Phil Murphy to use this funding to replace any anticipated losses from state budget cuts.
“This money from the feds should be more than enough to replace the state aid cuts that many districts face under the governor’s proposed budget,” said State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24). “Now is certainly not the time to cut any school district, considering the many costly challenges of a year dealing with the pandemic and hybrid schooling.”
Protecting District 24 Schools
Oroho, along with GOP Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths, report that 30 of the 38 school districts in their legislative district stand to lose aid with Murphy’s new budget.
The district has a combined loss of $7 million, a 5% reduction following a $10.5 million loss the previous year. Since Murphy’s term in office, District 24 schools have seen funding budgets reduced by $25 million.
“Our state is getting more than enough money to ensure no school will face steep cuts which would result in likely staff layoffs and reduced services as well as higher property taxes,” said Space. “For some districts, the stimulus funds that will be directed specifically to schools will help temper the governor’s cuts, but too many of our schools will still be in the red.”
Wirths echoed his colleague’s sentiments.
“The Governor needs to step up and do the right thing by holding school districts harmless,” said Wirths. “With this kind of federal assistance to our state, nobody should be losing money for their schools.”
Small Businesses Need Help
in the 38th District, State Sen. Joseph Lagana, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain and Assemblyman Christopher Tully plan to introduce five new bills that would appropriate $100 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, established by the CARES Act, to various hard hit businesses and organizations throughout the state.
Eligible entities would include small and micro businesses, restaurants, childcare centers as well as arts and cultural organizations, each of which have struggled to survive during the pandemic.
“Municipalities and small businesses, the backbone of our local economies, need this support,” said Tully. “These dollars will truly help us rebuild as our communities fight back against the financial difficulties inflicted by the virus.”
Child Care Centers in High Demand
With the implementation of vaccine programs, parents are now seeing greater need to return children to childcare settings. One of the new pieces of legislation would appropriate $10 million in federal funds to New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) to support childcare centers in need.
“I know these funds will make a difference. On the state level, we are working on direct support to some of the hardest hit organizations with bills like my proposal to benefit child care centers to ensure they can once again help the young families who rely on them,” said Swain.
Pandemic Impacts Felt State-wide
In addition to funding for child care centers, lawmakers have carved out funds for four other sectors that have been hard-hit by the pandemic:
- $15 million to support businesses and nonprofits in need;
- $15 million to support arts and culture organizations in need;
- $25 million to support microbusinesses in need; and
- $35 million to support food and beverage establishments in need.
“While these programs cannot erase the hardships we have all faced, they will be a valuable source of support for municipalities, businesses and families suffering from lost income and decreased opportunity,” said Lagana. “The American Rescue Plan dollars and the COVID Relief Fund bill package I recently helped introduce will be a huge help in the coming months.”