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.

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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.

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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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