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State Senator Nellie Pou, the new chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee, encouraged employer groups to look beyond the direct impact issues have on their businesses and consider the impact to the broader community.

Pou spoke Wednesday at NJBIA’s Government Affairs Committee meeting.  Although she is a veteran legislator, this was the first time she addressed the group in her new position as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, and she indicated that she would take a broader view of business issues.

“I come from a district that is very diverse,” Pou said. “I hail from the city of Paterson. I also represent small towns, I have suburban areas and I have a very large urban city.”

“Everybody wants the same thing,” she said. “Everybody wants to be able to afford a roof over their head. Everyone wants a good education for their children. They want an opportunity to have a career and the ability to pay their bills.”

For an example, she pointed to the federal Affordable Care Act. While businesses are concerned about the direct impact of the seven-year-old law and what its repeal may mean to them directly, the fact is that it has increased the state’s insured population by 700,000 people, which has in turn, reduced the amount of charity care the state has had to pay to hospitals by nearly $350 million and created 86,000 healthcare jobs.

In short, she said the state should not turn a blind eye to what doesn’t affect business directly in the belief that it won’t affect us at all.

“It may not reach your home or touch you personally, but it will eventually impact our ability to create the same opportunities for our neighbors,” she said.

She also discussed the issues of local education funding, the cost of higher education, and maintaining New Jersey’s highly skilled workforce.  She said she looks forward to working with NJBIA on these issues.