Earned income tax credit measure clears committee

TRENTON – One of the more contentious bills – restoring the earned income tax credit to 25 percent – was released along party lines in the Assembly Budget Committee today.

Committee Chair and bill co-sponsor Vincent Prieto said this was one of the more important bills they will deal with. He pointed out that the credit was reduced to 20 percent two years ago and Gov. Chris Christie now proposes to restore it but over a two-year period.

But Republican Gary Chiusano, as he has in the past, attacked the bill as a giveaway to certain people who actually receive more on their federal tax return than they pay into the system.

He wanted an amendment – which failed – to add prosecutorial strength to the bill regarding those who cheat the system.

“I can’t support it … because of the amount of fraud involved in it,’’ he said.

In support, Democratic Assemblyman John Burzichelli pointed out this program began under President Reagan. He and other committee members acknowledged there is some fraud but that is no reason to deny the credit to those lower-income residents who truly depend on the money.

Other bills that were dealt with in the budget committee:

A1880: This bill, passed along party lines, requires the state auditor to review Department of Corrections privatization contracts.

A3203: This bill, which passed along party lines,  would make supplemental appropriations totaling $256 million for fiscal year 2012 and reduce FY 2012 appropriations by $86 million.