NEWARK, NEW JERSEY -- New Start New Jersey and the Center for American Progress today introduced “A Policy Agenda for Strengthening New Jersey’s Middle Class: Initial Proposals Toward Security and Prosperity,” which outlines specific proposals designed to strengthen the state’s middle-class families and improve their quality of life. It serves as the basis for an evolving strategy in support of New Jersey’s middle class.
“New Jersey can only be as strong as its middle class. Yet middle class families face a constant squeeze and feel less secure than ever before. A majority of New Jersey’s middle class say they have to make at least some sacrifice just to make ends meet, and they view themselves as worse off than their parents’ generation,” said Philip D. Murphy, the Chairman and Co-founder of New Start New Jersey. “New Start New Jersey has collaborated with the Center for American Progress to draw on CAP’s exceptional work to develop real solutions to improve the quality of life of our state’s middle class and restore real economic security.”
“A Policy Agenda for Strengthening New Jersey’s Middle Class” features recommendations with potential to enhance the security and prosperity of New Jersey’s middle-class families:
- Introducing a Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to lessen the costs associated with tending to loved ones;
- Introducing banking partnerships, in which the state shifts deposits to community banks on the agreement they will lend to small businesses;
- Increasing the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 25 percent of the federal credit to give working families additional support;
- Raising the minimum wage for tipped workers to move a greater number of citizens closer to a living wage;
- Instituting statewide earned sick leave to grant more workers the opportunity to maintain their health and remain productive;
- Supplying coordinated and comprehensive work-placement assistance to long-term unemployed citizens; and
- Providing automatic retirement accounts for private-sector workers to furnish residents with additional options as they plan for their future.
Murphy added: “Some of these proposals are already working across the country in improving the daily lives of middle class families. New Start New Jersey’s focus is to continue identifying solutions that can make a difference.”
New Start New Jersey and the Center for American Progress presented the document during a public session held at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. To discuss the proposals, New Start New Jersey convened a panel of experts, which included: Milly Silva, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East; Henry Coleman, Professor, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University; and Gualberto (Gil) Medina, Executive Vice President, CBRE.
David Madland, the Managing Director of Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress American Worker Project, said, “The middle class in New Jersey and across the nation are being squeezed by costs that are rapidly rising but incomes that are stagnant. The recommendations we are presenting today, from earned sick leave to improvements to the minimum wage, would strengthen New Jersey’s middle class and its economy.”
Tim Castano, President of New Start New Jersey, said, “Families across New Jersey struggle every single day to make ends meet. Each of these proposals would deliver real and practical relief for millions of New Jerseyans and represent just the start of what can be done to bolster our state’s middle class.”
To read the full policy paper, please click here.