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The NJBIA Government Affairs Policy Committee recently held a virtual meeting with guest speakers Senator Steven Oroho (R-24), Assemblyman Harold “Hal” Wirths (R-24) and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ 5th District). 

Moderated by NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Christopher Emigholz, Senator Oroho and Assemblyman Wirths discussed the use of the $6.4 billion received from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan. 

The American Rescue Plan funds must be spent by 2024. They discussed the importance of funding capital programs, businesses and nonprofits, the modernization of technology and shoring up the Unemployment Insurance trust fund rather than programs requiring recurring spending 

Assemblyman Wirths stated that allocating funds to replenish the UI fund is needed to reduce or eliminate the tax increases on employers and businesses that were hit the hardest due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As the Governor and Legislature work to develop a plan to spend the ARP funds, Senator Oroho emphasized the need for transparency in the process of allocating the ARP funds with legislative and public input. 

Congressman Gottheimer discussed the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill currently moving through Congress, which aims to address crumbling infrastructure across the nation.

As a co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, he emphasized the need for bipartisanship to get the infrastructure package across the finish line to address critical infrastructure needs. New Jersey, in particular, faces many infrastructure challenges, as Gottheimer pointed out, such as poor road conditions, transit system delays, structurally unsafe bridges, and ailing water infrastructure.  

Congressman Gottheimer expressed that infrastructure improvements would not only create jobs but would benefit the state’s economy. The Senate voted, 67-32, on Wednesday,  to take the first steps to debating and potentially passing the approximately $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure bill.