Business Report: COVID-19 relief bill, PPP loans, homestead rebate, Green Economy Council

The new COVID-19 relief bill includes more money for state and local governments, help for small businesses, rental assistance and more funds for vaccine distribution

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill is now in the hands of the Senate, after the House voted mostly along party lines to approve the package late last week. In addition to direct payments to Americans and extended unemployment benefits, the legislation includes more money for state and local governments, help for small businesses, rental assistance, and more funds for vaccine distribution.

The federal government’s PPP (paycheck protection) loan program for small businesses is going better in its second funding round, according to one New Jersey banking executive. Liz Magennis, president of north Jersey-based ConnectOne Bank, says the application process has been much smoother for banks and applicants. She continues to see demand for loans, and ConnectOne has processed more than 1,000 applications in the current round.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget includes funding for the popular homestead rebate program. But for years now, governors and lawmakers from both parties have been using outdated bills to calculate the benefits. As a result, benefits stay flat even as property-tax bills are going up.

Murphy has named 20 members to the Green Economy Council, a group which will work to create jobs and economic development as the state moves toward using more clean energy. Jane Cohen has been named executive director. She last worked as a senior policy adviser for the governor. The council is composed of government and business leaders.

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