By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Senate Republican leader Tom Kean said the bills in the package represent the best ideas of Republicans and Democrats on the number one issue in the state — creating jobs.
“We’ve created a 36-bill jobs package that cannot fall victim to partisan politics. And our solutions won’t cost taxpayers any extra money,” said Kean.
The package, he said, focuses on six main pillars:
Developing New Jersey’s workforce.
Lowering excessive costs.
Improving New Jersey’s economic development policies and programs.
Reducing burdensome regulations.
Enhancing tourism and agriculture.
A number of the bills aim at linking up colleges and universities with employers and strengthening vocational education.
“There are so many young people who are ready for jobs but they’re trained for something that isn’t available. And there are so many jobs that are available that we can’t find no one to fill,” said Sen.Diane Allen.
Sen. Robert Singer of Ocean County said the state isn’t spending enough on tourism promotion and cited a campaign he’s seen promoting the fresh water lakes of Michigan.
“Their budget this year is $72 million to sell ‘Pure Michigan’, catchline Pure Michigan. We had $9 million this year in our budget for tourism. We spent six and turned back three,” said Singer.
Senator Jennifer Beck said New Jersey used to be the home of the pharmaceutical industry but now conducts 7,500 clinical trials per year compared to New York’s 19,000 and Pennsylvania’s 16,000.
“It’s a basic simple thing that there’s a lack of coordination between higher education, the pharma industry itself, hospitals, and the medical device industry. That conversation isn’t taking place and we are missing out on opportunities to host clinical trials, which oftentimes result in those products being developed within the state of New Jersey,” said Beck.
Senate President Steve Sweeney has said Gov. Chris Christie has failed on job creation.
Christie has vetoed some Democratic jobs bills.
“I think the majority party has sent all the wrong signals in the area of job creation. Every single angle you talk to, they’re talking about massive tax increases,” Kean said.
A room full of business lobbyists was on hand.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction. We like bipartisan effort. We like a number of the bills that are being proposed today,” said NJ Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Government Relations Michael Egenton .
Senate Republicans hope to get as many of these bills passed by June 30 as possible. They’ll need the help of majority Democrats to make that happen.