Recorded on 3/20/20, Steve Adubato sits down with Senate President Sen. Steve Sweeney (D) – NJ to talk about the impact of the COVID-19 public health crisis on New Jersey and the leadership that is needed to address it. Sweeney also discusses the future of conducting legislative business; education; public employee pensions and NJ Transit.
Senate President Sen. Steve Sweeney says meeting in the State House was directly impacted by the coronavirus. The public was not allowed in and for the first time the Senate voted in the Assembly chamber by voice vote, which allowed for the Senate to keep a safe social distance. Gov. Murphy recently signed a bill that would allow the Senate to use a video conference system in order to conduct business as usual while sheltered at home.
Sweeney says the Senate is drafting legislation right now to help bring small businesses relief, “We want all of our small businesses to come back after this, but you have to recognize small businesses mean they’re small and there’s not a lot of wealth hanging out there. You know you have people that are working very hard in the little mom-and-pop stores, that if they go for a few months without any money coming in, it’s a problem.” He also addresses the idea of helping the casino industry survive and the reality that some businesses will not come back after this downtime.
Sweeney says the federal government, the local government, businesses, and society are coming together. He adds, “Everyone is jumping in now in a very positive way. It’s like rushing to a fire to try to put it out. It’s a good thing, this is what I’m happy to see. We as a nation, we as a state, actually are banding together because it’s gonna get bad, but it’s gonna get better.”