- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey state senator is proposing legislation to retrain thousands of laid-off Atlantic City casino workers for new jobs.

Sen. Diane Allen, a Burlington County Republican, said Wednesday she’ll introduce a bill creating the Education Initiative for Former Casino Workers. It would dedicate at least $1 million a year from the state Labor Department’s Workforce Development Partnership Fund to provide training and education to workers laid off from Atlantic City casinos within the past two years.

It also would apply to Taj Mahal casino workers still on the job but threatened with a Dec. 20 layoff.

Four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos have gone out of business so far this year. The Taj Mahal would be the fifth, bringing the total of laid-off casino workers to 11,000.

“It is a pain in my heart when I think of all the folks out of work at this time of year,” Allen said. “They are really in a tough situation. We need to do everything we can to get these people started in a new career.”

She plans to introduce the bill Monday.

It would apply to instruction intended to lead to a degree or training certificate from a county college in New Jersey. It also would cover books, lab fees and transportation.

The program would continue until the unemployment rate in Atlantic County dips below 5 percent for three consecutive months. It currently is 11.2 percent.

The bill is the latest in a series of efforts to provide help to laid-off Atlantic City casino workers during an unprecedented contraction in the city’s casino industry. Earlier this year, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian announced a training and job search program for 1,200 former casino workers a year that was to begin in October but has been pushed back until January.

And laid-off workers packed a job fair at the Atlantic City Convention Center where 53 companies solicited applications for jobs.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at https://twitter.com/WayneParryAC


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