As the state’s political world waits for Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis Twp.) to join three other Democratic Party senators to publicly thumbs up the budget, the South Jersey lawmaker said the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) issue still isn’t a done deal.
“All of the t’s haven’t been crossed yet,” said Van Drew, chair of the senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “The UEZ function is going to continue and towns are going to keep their second generation funds. We got $48 million in the budget, which is historically what’s been available.
“I understand the concern of (Sen. Nicholas Sacco), especially when we’re used to more autonomy, but the way the system is going to work is not entirely clear right now,” Van Drew added. “Am I exhuberant about this, no. But am I a hell of a lot happier than when it started? Yes, we’ve come a long way.”
Assessing Gov. Chris Christie’s $29.4 billion budget, which includes the UEZ allocation, Van Drew said he wishes the governor would have approved the millionaire’s tax to be used for property tax relief for seniors..
“There are seniors making in the mid-$20,000 range who are going to be down $1300-$2000, which they had last year. It’s going to be difficult,” he said. “Nobody is happy with this budget, but we’ve moved along considerably from where we were – and there is more to do yet.”
Van Drew said he doesn’t agree with the Republican governor on everything, “But I consider myself a fiscal hawk and I try to be bipartisan. When this governor says soemthing, he means it. He will be committed to his word. He is a straight talker and a straight shooter.”