Murphy announces $235M small business relief that includes $40m ‘excluded workers fund’

New Jersey

The assembly conducts business at the state house in Trenton, N.J., Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. The prospects of a vote on legislation to eliminate most religious exemptions for vaccines for schoolchildren in New Jersey looked uncertain Monday, according to the bill’s sponsor, as opponents crowded the Statehouse grounds with flags, bullhorns and banners. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

TRENTON, N.J. — The state of New Jersey announced a $235 million small business relief package Friday that includes an “excluded workers” fund similar to the one created in New York.

Microbusiness will get the most of that money, with $120 million coming their way. New businesses and start-ups will receive $25 million, bars and restaurants $20 million and child care facilities $10 million.

The fund for excluded workers will be about $40 million of that money, an amount seen as not nearly enough by activist groups and opposed altogether by Republicans.

New Jerseyans who have previously been ineligible for federal assistance, including ITIN holders and others previously excluded from COVID relief assistance such as federal stimulus checks or unemployment insurance will be able to apply for it.

The “Excluded New Jerseyans Fund” will provide a one-time cash assistance benefit of up to $2,000 to households with incomes up to $55,000 that can demonstrate they have suffered economic hardship due to COVID-19. The program will begin accepting applications in the coming months, according to the governor’s office.

New York’s fund is costing the state over $2.1 billion, still just a fraction of the $3 billion-plus activists demanded from the Empire State’s legislature.

For activists, like the North Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, that’s not nearly going to cut it.

“While NJAIJ is humbled that today’s agreement was reached because of the brave sacrifices of hunger strikers and fasters, we stand by our comments that $40 million is insufficient to meet the crisis-level needs of communities who have been excluded from pandemic relief to date,” the organization said in a statement. “We are also bitterly disappointed that many brave champions of this fight will not be reached by the initial amount and, in additional weeks of fasting, cruelly had their hopes dashed that the State would offer more. Now, the call to replenish the fund becomes more urgent as each day passes and NJAIJ will continue organizing and fighting for the relief our communities deserve.”

Those thoughts were echoed by Make the Road NJ, a group that says it’s devoted to “building power of Latino & working class communities to achieve dignity & justice,” who cited #Fast4Relief, a group of people that have been fasting to force action from New Jersey legislators.

“The Excluded New Jerseyans Fund is a result of our work and an important but insufficient step to provide overdue relief to nearly a half million people left behind from aid,” the #Fast4Relief Hunger Strikers said in a statement.

New Jersey’s Democratic legislators did not comment on the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund in any statements touting the small business relief package.

Republican former Assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli said that none of this is a substitute for fully reopening the state.

“One out of every three small businesses, including Hispanic and Black-owned, have closed their doors forever because Murphy shut down too much for too long,” Caittarelli said in a statement. “What doesn’t Murphy understand? If he would open up the economy and tell people to get back to work, these stimulus dollars wouldn’t be necessary.” 

Hirsh Singh, another candidate for governor, tweeted out that Gov. Murphy was “foolish” and giving funds to immigrants showed he wasn’t dedicated to upholding the law.

The funds will provide the state’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) with $235 million for grants which businesses and individuals statewide can apply for.

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