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Business Tax Incentive Bill Passes NJ Assembly [AUDIO

The full New Jersey Assembly has approved a bill that one of its sponsors calls the most important business tax incentive bill in state history, but not before some serious drama.

Office Building
Flickr User Neil MacWilliams

Hours before the Assembly was to take a vote, Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the measure eliminating two major clauses.

One provision called for a prevailing wage for building maintenance workers and the other called for a prevailing wage for certain construction workers.

Read More: The New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013

“By modernizing and improving our already successful economic development programs, we are sending a powerful message to private sector employers that New Jersey is open for business,” said Christie. “With my minor yet important improvements incorporated, I look forward to swiftly signing this bill into law, and helping boost our economy for everyone.”

Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, one of the bill’s sponsors, said he expected the conditional veto, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.

“I was disappointed, but I’m trying to stay focused on the big picture,” explained Coutnho. “We will continue the fight for a living wage for all New Jerseyans, but with this bill we will be creating more jobs in the meantime. That is something we can all support.”

The New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 consolidates five of New Jersey’s financial incentive programs for business development into two. Under the amended bill, the state’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) will oversee and administer the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant Program.

“Simplifying several of the state’s business incentive programs under one umbrella is a common sense way to make New Jersey a more business-friendly state,” said Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick. “The new structure condenses the state’s incentive programs, makes it easier for companies to participate and more efficient for the government to administer. This bill will help in the effort to create jobs across our state.”

The legislation also provides that the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant program will become the state’s only redeveloper incentive program and will assist in closing financing gaps encountered in new or redevelopment projects.

“This is the largest overhaul of tax incentives in state history,” said Coutinho. “We’ve spent a lot of time crafting this bill, and while no bill is perfect, when all is said and done we’ll have reformed economic development incentives to make them more effective, kept jobs in the state, helped small businesses, set in motion plans to bring more jobs into New Jersey and ensured economic growth occurs in all areas of the state, including places where development has been stagnant for years.”

The bill now heads to the State Senate for consideration.

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