The past year tested New Jersey in a way we have not seen in generations. The COVID-19 pandemic cut so many lives too short, kept loved ones from their families, friends, and neighbors, and upended our economy, affecting the livelihoods of so many across our state.
In response, you showed your strength. You stepped up to the plate to protect yourselves and the people you love. You followed the guidance of our health care professionals, even when it was hard. Except for a few knuckleheads, you were a model for the nation.
There is no doubt we saved lives. Now, through the miracle of modern medicine and your resolve, we are turning the corner. We may not be at the end of the tunnel, but we can see the light.
We have now surpassed 4.1 million residents who have received their first shot, putting us well on our way to meet our goal of 4.7 million New Jerseyans vaccinated by June 30. We are among the top 10 states in the country in terms of the percentage of our population vaccinated and the number of total shots administered, among other key metrics.
You deserve the credit for getting us here. But we got a boost from our partners in the federal government, and looking back on the last few months, it’s clear we could not have turned the corner without the help of President Biden and his administration.
The president is delivering on the promise of relief for Americans. Relief from bills piling up. Relief from the economic hardship caused by COVID-19. Relief for our small businesses. Relief for our cities and municipalities who saw their budget devastated, and needed support to maintain essential services.
After the moment President Biden was inaugurated, he got right to work and made sure New Jersey received the help we so desperately needed.
The American Rescue Plan provided $6.4 billion in fiscal support to shore up our budget, and get the money to New Jersey’s small businesses and families. It made sure we had adequate funding to open our schools safely, more than $2.76 billion in fact. In the Garden State alone, 89,000 children will be lifted out of poverty through the Child Tax Credit expansion. Most importantly for so many of you, it delivered $1,400 stimulus checks to help nearly 4 million New Jersey families catch up on the bills that piled up over the last year.
Next, we must come together to make the most far-reaching investments in our core infrastructure in history. The fact is that 10% of New Jersey’s households don’t have an internet subscription, an essential service in today’s economy. The proposed $85 billion in funding for public transit will modernize our rail system to make commuting easier, and more efficient. As the effects of climate change worsen, our infrastructure must become more resilient, and the American Jobs Plan calls for more than $50 billion to do just that.
And with the American Families Plan the president unveiled last night, more families would benefit from expanded tax credits, more help for health care and child care, and more of our young people would be able to achieve a college education.
Our federal government is well-positioned to help our state and our rural communities build back better over the long-term, especially distressed communities such as Woodbine in Cape May County. Woodbine now has stimulus funding for critical projects such as traffic calming, support for general aviation infrastructure at the Woodbine Municipal Airport, and additional assistance designed to help rural communities with essential utilities such as internet service, especially for our seniors and students.
Even though we represent different parties, we can all agree that the new administration has kept an open dialogue during these trying times with municipalities big and small, spanning rural to suburban to urban.
Just as we cannot let our guard down now, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. There is simply too much work to do. President Biden’s first 100 days was transformative, and will make millions of Americans’ lives better.
We still have a ways to go to dig out of the hole, but we know with the help of the president, and the toughness of our people, New Jersey will come back better than ever.