TRENTON – State funding for the Urban Enterprise Zones has been eliminated in the $29.7 billion budget signed today, but the reduced sales tax rate will remain intact, Gov. Chris Christie confirmed.
The Democrats had proposed to include as much as $40 million for the state’s 30-plus UEZs, saying the funding helps stimulate the economies of distressed areas. Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-29) of Newark and Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1) of Cape May proposed altered versions of the UEZ program after it was learned there were several instance of wasteful spending.
A report the Christie Administration released in February found the program to be mostly a bad return on investment since the program was created in 1983, doing little to create jobs or increase commerce.
Originally, the state gave more than $90 million to UEZs, money that was intended to spur capital projects and revitalization in shopping districts. However, the state stopped funding for the program last year and this year.
The 3.5 percent sales tax in UEZs, which is half of the state’s 7 percent rate, will remain in place, though.