I believe we should be investing in infrastructure, education, clean energy and research. This would be the smart way to create jobs, to provide the economy with a jolt and to create long-term opportunities. – Congressman Frank Pallone (D-6th)
Unfortunately, the new austerity budget implemented in the law to raise the debt ceiling, NJ’s unemployment of 9.5%, the closing of Borders, the staff reduction at Goldman Sachs, and other depressing news items all bode ill for New Jerseyans in need of a job. Our governor is more concerned with cutting the budget than investing in projects that might increase jobs and strengthen the economy. Congressmen and the President talk about jobs but seem to be at loggerheads as to how to proceed.
In the midst of these pressing matters there is the particularly discouraging impasse in Congress over funding the FAA. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “This is not the way to create jobs, by laying off 70,000 construction workers. We have 4,000 FAA workers laid off, too. I say to Congress, ‘Don’t go on vacation until you put construction workers back to work,'” Nonetheless Congress went on vacation anyway. The dispute in the House-initiated bill between Republicans and Democrats is rooted in a labor issue that would make it more difficult for airline workers to unionize and in funding for rural airports. The dispute may not be settled until after Labor Day.
As a result the collateral damage in New Jersey includes construction workers where the unemployment rate is about 20%, and FAA employees. Senator Frank Lautenberg has said that $44.7 million in New Jersey projects with the potential to create more than 2,000 construction jobs are threatened.
According to Port Authority of NY-NJ at Teterboro Airport, for example, the rehabilitation work on runway 1-19 is a $7.5 million dollar project with 125 jobs furloughed. In addition, the safety work of constructing compressible concrete to prevent planes from overshooting runways is a $20 million project with 100 jobs furloughed. The impact on neighboring towns creates its own ripple effect.
Rather than seeing the bolder plans like those enunciated by Rep. Pallone, we are increasingly seeing the worst possible collateral damage: JOBS.