TRENTON, NJ – The state’s economic health was the main topic of discussion when Congressman Tom Malinowski joined Union Mayor Michele Delisfort, State Senator Joe Cryan, and Union Health Director Marconi Gapas at their weekly Facebook Live Q&A meeting on Friday. 

“What I’ve been fighting for is to try to be sure we get the economic relief we need to make this period of social distancing easier to survive so small businesses get forgivable loans,” said Malinowski. 

Malinowski said last week the House of Representatives passed their biggest piece of legislation yet – the Heroes Act -- a $3 trillion relief package.  He said the bill has passed in the House, but not yet in the Senate.  “The big thing we do in that bill, which I fought for the hardest, was to try to get relief for our state, county and local governments.  Every one of our municipalities has to balance their budgets, they have to be fiscally responsible.  We need relief from the federal government.”

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Malinowski said every township in New Jersey would get some relief under the bill.  “Union County would get over $200 million,” he said.   “The Township of Union would get over $30 million dollars to help pay expenses related for fighting the coronavirus and to help make up for revenues lost due to coronavirus.”  He said the bill also includes money for the testing and the contact tracing.

However, about getting the bill passed through the Senate, Malinowski said, “we’re not going to get everything we passed through the House [of Representatives]; that’s not realistic.  But there are some things that members of the Senate, including Senator McConnell, want to see done.  So, there’s a lot for us to be able to negotiate.  At the end of the day, we will get some assistance for state, county and local governments.  That’s essential.  We’ve said in the House that is our number one priority.  If there’s anything that Senator McConnell wants, he’s going to have to give us some of that.”  Malinowski said he is unsure about the timeframe for passing the bill.  “I feel a sense of urgency,” Malinowski said.  “I don’t understand how anyone could not feel a sense of urgency.”  He said a final agreement may be reached in June.

Cryan said the number one economic issue in the state is unemployment.  “Unemployment broke 15 percent this week,” he said.  Cryan said 1,088,000 New Jerseyans have filed for unemployment.  “That’s a staggering number.”  Malinowski stated the Heroes Act bill would also extend the extra $600 a week of federal funds through January.

Also on Friday, the Department of the Treasury delivered a budget update to the Legislature providing a detailed revenue report that illustrates the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on New Jersey’s finances and laying out plans to close the looming gap for the remainder of the extended fiscal year through a series of deep cuts and spending deferrals.

Based on a wide variety of economic assumptions, the State of New Jersey is potentially facing a combined revenue shortfall of nearly $10 billion over the remaining months of Fiscal Year 2020 and through the end of Fiscal Year 2021 – a potential decline that would be worse than the Great Recession.