Raymond Lesniak

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SOUTH RIVER, NJ-Gov. Chris Christie has begun publicly prodding legislators to return to Trenton as soon as possible to resolve their differences on the bill to revamp the state’s tax-incentive programs.


During a Tuesday appearance in Middlesex County, the governor said, “It’s time for them to get their rear ends back in Trenton and vote on this bill and get it on my desk so we can get moving on creating more private-sector jobs,” according to a Wall Street journal report.


Christie has already said he would sign the bill. However, it was heavily amended in both the Assembly and Senate before passage at the end of regular sessions last month. While it had been anticipated that the closely watched legislation would get final approval before lawmakers went on summer break – the two chambers’ versions significantly diverge at this point.


Several legislative leaders have said they expect the matter to be resolved and new votes to be taken in a special session this month. However, no progress has been reported.


Christie said the lawmakers “can’t get their act together” and need to do it now.


New Jersey has awarded more than $2 billion in tax incentives to development projects that create or retain jobs in the state since Christie took office in 2010.


The bill would streamline the state’s five existing incentive programs into two, focusing on job creation and capital investment.


The Senate passed the bill on the last day of the legislative session on June 27, but added 35 pages of amendments at the last minute. The lower house approved the bill as well – but did not accept all the Senate changes.


At this point, the state’s main incentive programs, the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit and Grow New Jersey, are about to run out of funding.


The political situation is unclear. The Senate sponsor of the bill Raymond Lesniak has said he wants to reopen negotiations on several key provisions. The Assembly sponsor, Albert Coutinho, said he is wary of more protracted negotiations.


Coutinho said he is pushing for an Aug. 1 session to consider the bill, which is known as the Economic Opportunity Act.  Read more here.



TRENTON, NJ-State Sen. Raymond Lesniak said Monday that a final vote on the much-amended business tax-incentive program overhaul has been delayed again. Yet he told nj.com that the measure should get to the governor’s desk by the end of the month.

Lesniak said another meeting has to be set where House and Senate leaders can work out their differences on the measure, which both chambers amended heavily in last-minute moves after a year of work on the bill. The Senate version stuffed the bill with plums for South Jersey.

Senate president Steve Sweeney told the Star-Ledger that the southern part of the state deserves special perks since the previous tax-incentive program wound up primarily benefiting Newark and Jersey City.

Two of the provisions added in the Senate version would:

*Set aside $175 million in residential tax credits exclusively for Camden, and another $75 million for projects in eight southern counties.

• Permit developers in the eight southern counties to invest one-third less in their projects than those in other parts of the state. 

“We need to have a date where the Senate and Assembly can both meet so that we can get it done in one session,” the senator said. “It has not been set, but everybody’s presuming it’s going to be sometime in July.”

Read more on Lesniak’s remarks here. And on the proposed South Jersey perks here 


The Original Story Appears Below


TRENTON, NJ-The revamp of state business tax incentive program – amended by both the Senate and the Assembly at the last minute Thursday June 27- will need another Senate vote before it goes to Gov. Chris Christie, legislative leaders said Friday.

The Senate finished its work Thursday afternoon, with swift approval expected to follow in the Assembly, since negotiations had been going on for months.

The Assembly did approve the bill – 65-8 – but added its own amendments before passage, so the Senate now must vote again. The governor has already committed to signing the bill.

On Friday, the bill’s Senate sponsor, Raymond Lesniak. told nj.com, “I expect that the Senate will give final approval on July 8″ after the legislature returns from recess. On the other hand, many legislative experts had predicted the bill would be on Christie’s desk by now. Instead, a slew of concerns and issues cropped up at the 11th hour in the Senate. (Read more here.)

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle continue to cite the urgency of a bill that will help create jobs. Lesniak, a Democrat, said he does not think any more projects that need incentive funding will be thwarted by a short delay until the legislature comes back from summer break. 

After the Assembly vote Thursday night, Albert Coutinho, the chairman of the Commerce and Economic Development who is recovering from a recent heart attack, released the following statement: 

In the end,” he said, “we will be doing the right thing for New Jersey’s economy and for job creation, and I look forward to seeing the benefits for years to come.”

“This merger of five incentive programs into two will enhance the ability of the state to attract and retain businesses to further the overarching goal of creating and retaining jobs,” Coutinho said. “Under this bill, we will see economic growth in areas that have not seen economic growth in decades.”

Coutinho also added a remark about how the bill will continue to “protect our environment,” which Sierra Club members indicated was a big concern down to the end of negotiations. 

One controversial Senate amendment would exempt major projects that get Economic Development Authority support from environmental review requirements. 

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