TRENTON-Outgoing acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco, a Republican, wanted to get enabling legislation for a new arena in Newark and a redevelopment package for Camden passed by the end of his term. The politically-charged issues have bounced around the legislature all year, and for DiFrancesco, it had become somewhat of a legacy issue as well (see earlier stories).

But both measures will fall in the lap of Governor-elect Jim McGreevey, a Democrat. Faced with a potential budget deficit of $2 billion, McGreevey has convinced key lawmakers to table the measures until after his administration is in place. In exchange, according to a published report, McGreevey has promised to jumpstart both issues within the first six months of his administration. At issue are two pieces of legislation that could remake urban New Jersey.

The best-known item is development of a new arena in Newark to house the NBA Nets and NHL Devils. The legislation that had worked its way through Trenton involved everything from a $190-million bond issue to fund construction, special taxing districts in Newark and the Meadowlands, a $115-million contribution by Nets’ and Devils’ owner YankeeNets, and $50 million in grants and loans from Newark and Essex County. But the bill that made it into committee was so loaded with add-ons for the rest of the state that then-candidate McGreevey called in a “pork fest.”

The other issue is a $180-million package to help stimulate the economy of Camden. The latest package included nearly $7 million in direct aid, with the rest coming in the form of a bond issue. The most controversial aspect was that it involved a virtual state takeover of Camden.

Both are dead for now, but are expected to be near the top of McGreevey’s list next year.

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