Bill would put Christie’s tax incentives under microscope
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Details of business tax incentives like the $5 billion handed out under Gov. Chris Christie would have to be more extensively disclosed under a bill moving in the Legislature.
The Assembly is set to vote Thursday on a measure that requires the governor to send lawmakers a detailed report on future proposals to enact tax breaks. Under current law, the governor is required to evaluate some subsidies but this bill says he must send lawmakers a report including detailed metrics.
The vote comes as Christie pushes to replace a current business grant program with tax incentives aimed at attracting jobs to the state. It also comes as Democrats who control the Legislature push for a handful of bills they say will promote transparency.
“We can project revenues going out further into the future so we can have transparency so you can see what we’re doing and that we don’t do smoke and mirrors as we have done in the past with revenue projections,” said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus).
Christie, who is considering a White House campaign, has pursued tax breaks to entice business to the state and revive the economy. In particular he has touted several companies' moves to Camden after receiving tax incentives. Some of the incentives have gone to politically connected companies that are relocating from other locations in the state, according to a recent Associated Press review.
For instance, southern New Jersey power broker Democrat George Norcross sits on the board of Holtec International Inc., which makes parts for nuclear reactors. Holtec received a $260 million tax break for moving 160 jobs into Camden from nearby Marlton and adding 235 more.
Since 2014 New Jersey has approved over $2 billion in tax incentives -- $5 billion since Christie took office in 2010 -- with most of the aid going to businesses in Camden, where companies got $630 million in future tax breaks last year.
Other companies that have received tax breaks for moves to Camden include Subaru, which is moving its U.S. headquarters there; Lockheed Martin, which plans to put researchers there; and the Philadelphia 76ers, which plan to move their offices and practice facility there.
The state Senate has passed a similar bill.
“This is a first good step on the path to fixing our finances in New Jersey. We know that budget reform is needed in New Jersey. It is urgent. Even after years of brutal budget cuts to essential services New jersey still isn’t bringing in enough revenue to meet its needs or obligations,” said Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families.
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