Jobs, tax credit bills provide chance for policy disagreements

TRENTON – The Assembly Budget Committee released more economic-incentive and jobs creation bills today as committee members disagreed over whether Democrats’ policies were helpful or hurtful to a struggling New Jersey economy.

Jay Webber, R-26, Parsippany, said of the slate of bills, “I see a lot of motion here, but not much progress.”

Gary Chiusano, R-24, Sparta, said what is needed is a comprehensive long-term plan that would give continuity and long-term assurances that investments and tax breaks will be worthwhile.

But Troy Singleton, D-7, Mount Laurel, urged them to take each bill on its own merits.

And Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Vincent Prieto said good ideas often are the ones that can gain approval, while great ideas can take too long, and New Jersey needs action now.

Among the bills that were released:

A2005: This bill provides a Corporation Business Tax credit and Gross Income Tax credit for qualified investment in biotechnology businesses.  It passed along party lines.

The bill allows tax credits for 50 percent of a qualified investment in biotechnology businesses.  Qualified investment must be in an amount of at least $25,000, but no more than $250,000, per investor per tax year.  The bill caps the amount of credit available to all investors to $6 million per state fiscal year. 

Qualified investment is an amount at risk that is exchanged for an ownership interest in the qualified business.

A2015: This bill establishes the “New Jersey Innovation Inspiration School Grant Pilot Program” in the Department of Education to broaden and encourage student access and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields in order to advance United States competitiveness and innovation in these fields. It cleared along party lines.

In awarding the grants, the Education commissioner will give priority to applications from a rural or urban school, a low-performing school, or a school or school district that serves low-income students.  The commissioner will award an equal number of grants to school districts located in the north, central, and southern regions of the State

Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-15, Trenton, said, in regards to A2015, that this bill in part helps “schools that have been abandoned by this administration. I am sick and tired of hearing how ‘those’ people squandered those resources.”

But Chiusano said he never used the term ‘those’ people, but simply had pointed out that under the bill, the eligible low-income students would be those who qualify for the free and reduced price lunch program, which has been subject to well-documented abuse. As such, this bill is a non-starter for him.

A3270: This bill requires the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, to develop a career exploration report that provides students enrolled in grades 7 through 12 with information concerning employment in high-demand industries. It advanced unanimously.

A3312: This bill establishes a New Jobs for New Jersey tax credit program to be administered by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.  The purpose of the program is to provide incentives to small private-sector employers who increase their work force by hiring unemployed workers.

The bill makes an employer of 100 or fewer full-time employees eligible for a refundable tax credit against the corporation business tax or the gross income tax, whichever applies to the employer, for each eligible individual employed by the employer on a full-time basis. It advanced 8-2.

A3319: This bill prohibits state government departments and agencies from imposing a fee on any applicant when it is imposed solely to correct clerical errors made by the applicant on an application for a permit, certificate, or any other purpose.  It was released unanimously.

A3321: This bill would require state administrative agencies to employ various technologies, including the Internet, listserv technology, and e-mail services, in order to streamline the agencies’ rule-making notice and comment procedures and facilitate regulatory compliance. It was released unanimously.

Jobs, tax credit bills provide chance for policy disagreements