Jobs for recovering addicts, business tax credits meet in NJ bill

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A bill introduced Monday by the state’s Senate Economic Growth Committee would encourage companies to hire New Jersey residents to recover from drug addiction by offering a tax credit of $2,000 per employee.

Sen. Jean Stanfield, R-Lumberton, co-sponsor of the Recovery Tax Credit Program measure alongside Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Ocean Twp., said grocery stores, warehouses and specifically in Atlantic City, casino floors have benefited from such provisions.

A sort of pilot program, led by retired Superior Court Judge Mark Sandson in Atlantic and Cape May counties, has been successful according to Stanfield.

In a letter to Stanfield shared with New Jersey 101.5, Sandson said while overseeing Recovery Court, formerly Drug Court, in those two counties from 2016 to 2020, he and his team landed jobs in the casino industry. for many recovering people, many of whom “are still here and have been promoted from entry-level jobs six years later.”

“New hires get career coaching, they know what’s expected of a workplace, they try to prove themselves, they get drug tested, so they make great employees” , Stanfield said. “So it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Both the senator and the former justice are involved with the state Supreme Court‘s Judicial Opportunities Committee to Build Success, or JOBS, Committee.

Stanfield said there has been a societal shift in the state in recent years to uplift those who are making good progress in their recovery and back them into stable jobs, instead of throwing them in jail as punishment.

“There’s a real, viable track record for this, and it’s changing people’s lives,” she said. “They are successful, they feel good about themselves, their families are much better off with their parent at home.”

The tax credit also offers a clear advantage to employers.

Under the legislation, that money would come from a $2 million annual stipend for the Mental Health and Addiction Services Division, to be credited either to the company or to gross income tax.

“In addition to having good, qualified employees, getting this tax credit will give them a chance to give it a try,” Stanfield said. “Once they do, I think they’ll be happy with it.”

There is corresponding legislation in the State Assembly. If passed by the entire Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, the stimulus tax credit program would go into effect for fiscal year 2023.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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