Budget panel kicks off hearing on jobs, tax bills; sales tax exemption for fuel-efficient vehicles bill held

TRENTON – The Senate Budget Committee this morning kicked off a hearing on a series of jobs and tax credit bills to jump start the state’s sluggish economy.

Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney said that it does not matter who gets the credit for this bipartisan package of bills if it puts at least one more person back to work.

“Last night I  saw a gentleman at a school dedication,” Sweeney said, “and I asked him are you  working, and he said not in two years. That’s lost benefits, lost pensions, people can’t get that back. We need action. The economy is not rebounding as quick as hoped.”

Republican Sen. Anthony Bucco pointed out, however, that while these bills are basically all good bills, “The problem I have is can we afford to pay for them. Can we afford to implement them now or put them off for the next budget year.”

Sweeney pointed out the jobless rate in the state is at 9.4 percent, and Republican Sen. Kevin O’Toole added that the economy has been in a rough patch for several years now, and he feared some of the bills being considered, in a sense, are “like planting seeds on a concrete field.”

Chairman Sen. Paul Sarlo said he believes the governor will be on board with these bills that are up today despite being in disagreement on such issues a year ago.

S756, he said, would exempt from the sales tax fuel-efficient vehicles, and that will be held today at the sponsor’s request.  Sarlo called that frustrating, but he said he looked forward to the rest of the bills.

Budget panel kicks off hearing on jobs, tax bills; sales tax exemption for fuel-efficient vehicles bill held