Legislature Introduces and Passes Budget with Increase for America’s SBDC New Jersey
On June 30 the Governor signed into law (P.L. 2016, Chapter 10) a state budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 which includes a restored increase for the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers program.
The Governor in his winter proposed budget would have allocated $250,000 for the NJSBDC, but, the Legislature increased that allocation to $500,000, which was the level of funding in the prior year’s budget for this program. The funds are leveraged with Small Business Administration (SBA) funding appropriated by Congress for America’s SBDC national network program. The funds are returned to the states’ SBDC networks on the basis of population and the ability to match federal funding with other financial resources, including state, non-federal grants, and private sector contributions.
“We are grateful to the Legislature for their continued support of this small business resource program,” said Brenda B. Hopper, NJSBDC network’s chief executive officer and state director. “They understand that the assistance we provide to entrepreneurs and small business owners translates into business retention, expansion and jobs.”
“The Legislature has been fully supportive of this jobs producing program year after year,” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC network’s chief operating officer and associate state director. “We’ve gone through some challenges over the past 12 years, but, we believe our crusade for proper investment in small business assistance resources is the right approach.”
Smarth, the organization’s chief advocate at the State House, indicates that New Jersey’s investment pales compared to other states’ investment in their statewide SBDCs. “According to a recent, past national network association survey, the average state investment stands at $1.1 million. In reviewing the history of the program’s state funding, Smarth points out that the Legislature has led the way from the beginning, having worked with the program to increase funding from $500,000 to $1 million several years ago. But, during the Corzine administration, there was a reduction from $1 million to $500,000, than a freeze to $250,000. When Governor Christie took office, his first budget proposed no funding, but, the Legislature restored state funding to $250,000 where it remained stable during the first term and into the second term of the Christie administration until the Legislature increased funding in fiscal year 2015-2016 to $500,000. This year’s fiscal budget (2016-2017) was enacted with the $500,000 allocation, the same as last year.
The Governor subsequently issued an executive order (following his signing of this year’s budget on June 30); the executive order led to certain legislative budget add-ons being put in reserve until the Legislature agrees to healthcare reform savings; more than $100 million in municipal transitional aid and various other programs, including certain non-profits, were also placed on this reserve list. The SBDC program was added to the reserve list despite the fact that the total $500,000 allocation for SBDC does not increase the state budget since it is drawn from the
line appropriation for the State Department division charged with business development, attraction, and economic growth. Half of the SBDC program allocation was being held in reserve, but, on October 12th those funds were released.
“That was good news,” said Smarth. “In this economy which has not recovered, small business resources are significantly important. Investment in small business technical assistance actually produces impact in terms of job retention and job creation, notwithstanding business retention, business creation and expansion.”
The entire network and the thousands of small business owners served under the program are grateful for the leadership of Assembly and Senate Budget Committee chairmen in the respective legislative chambers, Senator Paul A. Sarlo and Assemblyman Gary Schaer as well as the ranking minority budget officers, Senator Anthony R. Bucco and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon. Other supporters included: Assemblymen Robert Clifton, Ronald Dancer, David Rible, Assemblymen David Russo, David Wolfe and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi; Assemblymen Craig Coughlin, Tim Eustace, Jerry Green, Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, Assemblywomen Valerie Vanieri Huttle and Pamela Lampitt, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter and Assemblyman John Wisniewski. Members of the Assembly Budget Committee included: Assemblymen Anthony Bucco, John Burzichelli, Gordon Johnson, John DiMaio, John McKeon, Troy Singleton, Benjie Wimberly, Assemblywomen Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Eliana Pintor Marin. Senate Budget Committee members supporting the effort included: Senators Sandra Cunningham, Linda Greenstein, Kevin O’Toole, Steve Oroho, Nellie Pou, Brian Stack, and Sam Thompson; in addition, Senators Diane Allen, Christopher (“Kip”) Bateman, Michael Doherty, Robert Gordon, Ronald Rice, and Shirley Turner; Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. and Senate President Stephen Sweeney have supported the program over the years. Several additional legislators also joined this year’s efforts.