NJ Bill to Give Amazon $5 Billion in Tax Credits Clears Legislature

Amazon corporate office building in Sunnyvale, California. Lisa Werner/Getty Images

Both the New Jersey Senate and Assembly passed a bill on Monday that could give Amazon $5 billion in state tax credits, one of the final acts of the legislature before a Tuesday reorganization.

The bill (S3631/A5340), which was co-sponsored by Republicans and Democrats in an effort to lure the corporate giant and the influx of jobs that the company’s second headquarters could bring to the state, will now head to Gov. Chris Christie for approval or veto. A supporter of the legislation, Christie is expected to sign the bill into law before he leaves office on Jan. 16.

“This bill is unique, but Amazon offers a rare opportunity to bring a major, growing corporation into our state that will employ thousands of our residents for decades to come and bring expansive tangential economic benefits,” said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) after the bill cleared his house with a 61-10 vote.

The bill was co-sponsored in the Senate by state Sen. Ray Lesniak, a Democrat who will be leaving the legislature after the Tuesday reorganization.

Amazon offers a rare opportunity to bring a major, growing corporation into our state that will employ thousands of our residents for decades to come,” said Lesniak. “Amazon is a modern company with a wide range of jobs—many of them in high tech or medium technology.”

If the bill is signed into law by Christie, Amazon would become eligible for $10,000 in tax breaks annually for every full-time position created if the company chooses to locate a second headquarters in New Jersey. Currently, Amazon is weighing over 200 proposals for its HQ2, but the New Jersey State Senate estimates that if Amazon chooses New Jersey, 30,000 to 50,000 new jobs could be created in the state. That means that $3 to $5 billion in estimated tax credits would be given to the company.

But while the bill has bipartisan support, not every member of the legislature favors the heavy cost of luring Amazon through tax credits.

“New Jersey shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers, nor should we give special tax breaks to a company that’s driving our mom and pop shops out of business,” said Sen. Mike Doherty (R-Warren), in a statement after the Senate passed the bill. Doherty voted no on the bill.

“Everyone’s talking about hypothetical jobs that Amazon might create in New Jersey if we give them billions of dollars, but they’re not talking about the thousands of retailers on our Main Streets that will go out of business as a result of this sweetheart deal,” he added.

In addition to the jobs created by installing HQ2 in New Jersey, the state Senate estimates that the company could generate $10 billion in direct and indirect economic activity.

The bill moved quickly through the legislature after it was introduced in mid-December. It cleared two legislative committees on Friday, paving the way for Monday’s vote.

NJ Bill to Give Amazon $5 Billion in Tax Credits Clears Legislature