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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ-At a NAIOP-NJ-sponsored event held here Friday, Governor Jon Corzine made it clear that while the state faces difficult fiscal times, he is committed to boosting New Jersey’s economy and making the state more attractive to businesses.”There are real challenges for all of us in this current environment,” he said. “But it is the challenge that also creates enormous opportunity as we go about laying the framework for what I think will be a significant recovery in a year to 18 months.”

The governor was the keynote speaker at NAIOP-NJ’s 2009 Public Policy Symposium, which also featured a panel of Democratic and Republican state legislators. During his remarks, the governor referenced a number of bills now under consideration in the state house that have been endorsed by NAIOP-NJ. Two such amendments are to the Revenue Allocation District Financing Act, which would expand the tax revenues towns may use to fund capital improvements needed for redevelopment projects, and changes to the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit, which, among other revisions, would permit businesses to transfer any unused tax credits.

“All of these are designed to make New Jersey far more business friendly, and there is more on the way,” he said. “The revision to the urban hub bill is probably the most attractive competitive vehicle. From what I hear from other places around the country, particularly on the east side of the Hudson River, they are not all that happy with some of the things we are doing to actually make us competitive in working with firms to come across the river.”

Gov. Corzine also said passage of the Licensed Site Professionals bill is “maybe weeks away.” That act would allow outside inspectors, under the supervision of the DEP, to monitor the remediation of less environmentally tainted sites in the state. The governor said the bill would help spur redevelopment activity around brownfields and urban areas. “It may be the most important land use and development friendly initiative we have,” he said, adding the goal is to address a backlog of 20,000 sites waiting for cleanup.

During the panel discussion with members of the state legislature, the LSP bill garnered bipartisan support. Democratic state senator Bob Smith said the bill would significantly reduce the time it takes to clean up contaminated sites. He also predicted the governor would sign it. Republican state senator Thomas Kean termed the LSP legislation as the bill now in the state house and that it most “needs to get done.”

Gov. Corzine further stated that he is “totally committed” to the urban hub concept . “It is how we rebuild Newark, Camden and our communities,” he said. The RAD bill, “without too much modification, is something I would support,” Gov. Corzine said.

Regarding changes to the state’s Council on Affordable Housing regulations, the governor, however, was more guarded. A bill now in the state house aims to do away with the requirement that towns automatically incur an obligation to build affordable housing when they approve a commercial project. “COAH is the most difficult,” he said, stressing the need for updated data to ensure it is accurately applied.

“COAH was not something we set up in an ivory tower,” he said. “We are either going to have a court monitor doing it or we come up with proposals that actually fit what the responsibilities are. We have a legal mandate and if we ignore it, we’ll end up with court monitors. I don’t think that’s a great idea. We need to do it in a way that gives satisfaction to the courts.”

Other issues the governor touched on included consolidation among local governments and the need to share municipal services. He also said that while a robust private sector is important, it must be balanced by an equally strong government and a good quality of life.

When asked by an audience member whether he would run for a second term, Gov. Corzine replied, “It would be nice to be governor during an expanding economy.”

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