Press Release
Senator Tom Kean, Jr. Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21)
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Contact: Brad Schnure / (609) 847-3600
June 6, 2016
Kean: Democrats Working to Put Hard Working People Out of Work

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Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said that while Democrats in the Legislature purport to be the party of “working people,” they haven’t told the full story about how the major legislative initiatives they are working to advance would actually put many hard working New Jerseyans out of work.

Sen. Tom Kean said that Democrats in the Legislature haven’t told the full story about how their major legislative initiatives would put many New Jerseyans out of work. (Wikipedia)

“New Jersey Democrats have been on a warpath in recent months, and the enemy appears to be jobs,” said Kean. “While Republicans are focused on enacting solutions to our state’s affordability crisis, Democrats have doubled-down on efforts to impose expensive mandates that would put the jobs of many New Jersey residents at risk.”

Kean highlighted several proposals sponsored by Democrats that are likely to have negative, unintended consequences for those seeking a job, as well as those already employed:

S-2160 would allow striking union workers to collect unemployment benefits, incentivizing labor walkouts and putting the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund at risk. Recent reforms to the state’s UI Fund turned a deficit into a surplus, resulting in a pair of reductions of the unemployment taxes paid by employers to make it less expensive to create and maintain jobs.

“We reformed our Unemployment Insurance fund to turn a $2 billion deficit into a $2 billion surplus, ensuring that this critical safety net is available to New Jersey residents in their times of need,” said Kean. “Now, Democrats are reverting to their old ways when our unemployment benefits system finally works. A parent forced out of work shouldn’t have the benefits their family depends on put at risk by Democrats who want to divert payments to their labor union friends who choose to walk off the job. Unemployment benefits should be reserved for those who truly need them.”

SCR-2 is a constitutional amendment that would mandate multi-billion payments for public employee pensions every year, prioritizing those payments before everything else in the state budget. In hard times, payments to the pension fund would be protected, leaving little flexibility to avoid slashing programs or massive tax increases.

“Democrats still haven’t explained how they will pay billions into the pension system and maintain funding for critical services if the state experiences a severe revenue drop as it did in 2008,” said Kean. “There’s little discretionary spending in the state budget. What will they cut first? Will they cut school funding, which inevitably would hit young, untenured teachers the hardest? Will they slash social services that protect the disabled and at-risk children, families and seniors? Will they follow their playbook from the McGreevey and Corzine years and increase taxes across the board, driving more families and jobs from New Jersey? We don’t know, because Democrats have refused to answer those questions.”

S-799 would require every employer to offer paid sick leave to every employee in the state. Even small businesses with two or three employees would be subject to the mandate, making job creation more expensive.

“Many small businesses take a big financial risk when they create a job,” said Kean. “They don’t need yet another government mandate to scare them from taking the chance to hire someone. We shouldn’t make it even harder for someone looking to get a foothold in the workforce to find a job.”

S-15 would raise the minimum wage paid by employers from the current rate of $8.38/hour to $15.10/hour, an 80% increase. Many retail businesses are labor dependent and operate on razor-thin profit margins. To offset the massive increase, many employers will be forced to cut jobs, hire fewer employees and reduce hours.

“The paycheck of every employee making under $15/hour is at risk should the Democrats’ wage mandate pass,” said Kean. “Democrats fail to tell people the full story that only those who are lucky enough to keep their jobs or maintain their hours will benefit from a minimum wage increase.”

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