Gov. Phil Murphy on April 13 approved the last piece of legislation in a $100 million business COVID-relief package – a bill allocating $10 million to support child care services across the state.
The latest infusion of cash is seen by proponents as a key measure in helping working parents transition back to the workplace.
“Without the commitment of child care providers so many of our frontline essential workers would have been unable to go to work filling so many important needs,” reads a April 13 statement from Acting Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman.
Child care providers have struggled for the duration of the pandemic, thanks to COVID-19 restrictions and a surge of parents working for home.
Like the other $90 million of programs Murphy approved, this is being financed via federal funds from the Trump-era COVID-19 stimulus plan.
“Child care providers are absolutely critical to New Jersey’s workforce, and the COVID-19 pandemic has hit them especially hard,” the governor said in a statement. “This legislation will help to ensure that these providers can continue to weather the pandemic and remain open and able to meet the needs of so many New Jerseyans who rely on them.”
Over the past two weeks, Murphy approved four other small business relief bills–all out of a $100 million package of employer assistance that lawmakers proposed.
This legislation will help to ensure that these providers can continue to weather the pandemic and remain open and able to meet the needs of so many New Jerseyans who rely on them.
— Gov. Phil Murphy
“The impact” of the grants “could be seen up and down our streets for the thousands of small businesses whose doors remain open,” Murphy said April 12 at a bill-signing ceremony at Jammin’ Crepes in Princeton.
A $35 million pot of grant money is being set aside for COVID-hit bars and restaurants, while $15 million of grants will go to arts and culture organizations, $15 million toward small businesses and nonprofits, and $25 million to businesses with up to five employees.
Those funds will be overseen by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which is convening April 14 to hash out rules for $85 million of those grants. Some portions of the money will be jointly operated by the NJEDA and other state agencies.
According to the governor’s office, the NJEDA awarded $250 million in grants, low-interest loans and other forms of COVID-19 monetary relief to roughly 55,000 businesses over the past year.
“This is … an economic crisis that is coming to an end but still very real for small businesses,” Tim Sullivan, who heads the NJEDA, said this week. The funds, he assured, will “get out the door prudentially, judiciously, but expeditiously.”
State lawmakers have been pushing for a greater say in how the state spends federal aid, especially the $6.4 billion that the state will get under President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, including more business grants amid the pandemic.
During an April 6 budget hearing, Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo, D-36th District, pressed New Jersey State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio on whether “we have commitments from you that your administration will work with the Legislature” on how to spend the money, something which the administration said it very much favors.