TRENTON – From subsidies to the environment, critics of the Economic Opportunity Act had reasons to poke holes in the makeover of tax incentive and job growth programs that passed the Senate Thursday on concurrence with the governor’s conditional veto.
Similarly, backers of the Act found just as many reasons to applaud the economic advantages they said this bill will bring to New Jersey in its quest to remain competitive with other areas of the country that also are trying to lure companies.
New Jersey Policy Perspective, which has supported some aspects of the bill, again decried what it sees as misplaced resources as the bill overwhelmingly cleared the Senate today after clearing the Assembly on Monday.
“This legislation throws more resources at New Jersey’s subsidy programs, despite the fact that tax subsidies have only marginal effects on location decisions,” said NJPP President Gordon MacInnes in a release.
“The lack of a spending cap, in particular, is distressing, as it all but ensures the state will continue the surge in subsidy awards that have marked the past few years, further straining future state budgets of revenues needed to pay for the public goods – like education, safety and transportation – that we all need to thrive.
“We believe that business tax subsidies should be only a small part of the state’s economic development strategy, not the main tool in the toolbox.”
The N.J. Sierra Club maintained it’s a giveaway of public funds targeting environmentally sensitive regions.
“There are projects that would never happen without this law,” Sierra Club Executive Director Jeff Tittel said in a release.
“This law targets rural areas, farmland and environmentally sensitive lands because they could never get the financing, or the costs of bringing in infrastructure like sewer lines would be too expensive.
“With this law taxpayers will be subsidizing these developments, paying for sewer lines and infrastructure and providing financing for projects that would never get private financing from banks.”
But the bill has strong support from business groups and lawmakers.
On the floor of the Senate, Sen. Joe Pennacchio lauded the bill, adding the best economic strategy is the one that lets money stay in the pockets of those who earn it.
And in a release afterward, Sen. Joe Kyrillos, a prime backer of the Senate version, said “In the months that this act was unnecessarily delayed by poor Senate and Assembly leadership, New Jersey missed out on new job creation, as other states such as North Carolina passed monumental measures to attract businesses.
“Now, we can tell families and job creators that the anxious wait is over and the Economic Opportunity Act is finally on the brink of enactment to help ensure New Jersey retains and attracts employers in the immediate future.”