Assembly Democrats backpedal on help for small businesses

Assembly Democrats backpedal on help for small businesses

TRENTON, N.J. –  At an Assembly session Monday, Assemblyman Hal Wirths moved to immediately pass $300 million in aid to small businesses and non-profits by motioning that his bill (A5085) be made the “order of the day,” which would set it up for debate and a floor vote. Assembly Democrats quickly voted to table the motion, including Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, the first primary sponsor on the bill.

“It’s about time we say stand up and say enough is enough and stand up for our constituents and stand up for the small businesses in the state of New Jersey,” Wirths, the Assembly Republican budget officer (R-Sussex), said on the Assembly floor.  “If we really mean what we say and support small businesses, this bill should be passed today.”

The bill would provide funding to the state Economic Development Authority from the state’s federal CARES Act allocations received nearly a year ago. Gov. Phil Murphy still has not spent as much as $450 million from that funding, and his proposed budget increases spending by $4.5 billion, which does not count on the $600 million the state will receive for agreeing to restructure the business model of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, and up to $6 billion from the federal government.

“As my colleagues in here know, over a third of businesses are closed right now with probably more closing unfortunately,” said Wirths.

The Senate introduced a bipartisan bill that includes more restrictions on the aid, such as limiting help to businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The Assembly has not introduced an identical version, and pulled four bills off today’s agenda that would have provided relief for restaurants and another implementing regional reopening plans to help areas of the state less affected by Covid-19.

Watch: Wirths pushes for $300 million in aid to small businesses at Assembly session