Tax incentive bill clears Budget Comm.

TRENTON – Assembly lawmakers cleared a bill from committee Thursday that aims to streamline the state’s tax incentive structure to foster targeted development and economic growth.

The Assembly Budget Committee released A3680, known as the “Economic Opportunity Act,” which will upgrade and update the tax incentive structure, according to the legislation’s proponents. The bill was released from committee following a nearly unanimous vote and little discussion.

Assemblyman Jay Webber, (R-26), Morris Plains, was the only member of the committee to vote against releasing the bill.

“The need for this legislation is a simple fact that the unemployment in our state is too high,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, (D-29), Newark.

 “Job creation has been the top priority of this Legislature,” he said, referring to it as “a crucial endeavor” for the state.

Instead of having the five major tax incentive programs, BEIP, BRAG, Urban Transit Hub, ERG, and GROW NJ, the bill would streamline the incentive programs down to the latter two, Coutinho said.

The goal of the bill, he said, is to place more emphasis on job creation than mere capital investment. It also lowers the threshold for which projects could qualify, particularly in terms of job creation, which could open the door for more investment and more expansion of facilities, and it focuses more on transit-oriented development.