Tax break, jobs bills advance in Budget Comm.

TRENTON – The Senate Budget Committee advanced several tax break bills today, generally along party lines.

S2211: This bill establishes a New Jobs for New Jersey tax credit program to provide incentives to small private-sector employers who increase their workforce 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.

It was released along party lines.

“We’re trying to get creative here to create jobs,’’ Committee Chair Sen. Paul Sarlo said. 

But Sen. Jennifer Beck said tax revenue was growing until the storm hit last year.  “We are seeing more revenue coming into the state’’ despite the fact projections are off, she said.

But this bill credits a federal revenue stream the state doesn’t realize. “It’s odd policy,’’ she said.

“I’m not saying these are perfect solutions,’’ Sarlo said, but he reiterated the state needs to be creative in the face of 9.6 percent unemployment.

S1263/A1271: The bill allows a corporation business tax credit and gross income tax credit for wages paid to qualified interns in tax years 2013 and 2014. 

The bill allows credits in amounts equal to 40 percent of the compensation or $600, whichever is less. 

Businesses that employ three or more interns receive a $75 bonus per intern. 

The bill limits the combined credits to 5,250 qualified interns or 700 taxpayers, whichever is triggered first. 

It was released 8-5 along party lines.

S2404: This would eliminate the 10 percent surcharge on unemployment insurance  taxes during fiscal year 2014.

It was released unanimously.

S2473: This establishes a small-business loan guarantee program allowing small businesses to receive loan guarantees to support their capital purchases and operating expenses.

The loan amounts would be from $25,000 to $250,000.

Amendments would make some businesses in so-called regional centers eligible as if they were in urban centers.

Republican Sens. Tony Bucco and Jennifer Beck said they had problems with guarantees for operating expenses such as utilities, but they supported guarantees for capital expenses. And Sen. Steven Oroho also  worried about an additional potential problem of audit costs consuming much of the loan.

The bill passed by a vote of 8-4-1 along party lines with Beck abstaining.

S2535: This Increases the benefit amounts under the New Jersey earned income tax credit program to 25 percent of the federal earned income tax credit amounts beginning in Tax Year 2013

According to federal and state data, some 528,000 taxpayers received an average benefit of approximately $430 during 2010, the most recent year for which data are available.  Under the bill, the average benefit amount would grow to approximately $553, assuming a level number of participants.

The bill was released 9-0-4 with the Republicans – minus Sen. Jennifer Beck – abstaining.

Beck had hoped an amendment moving the start date to Jan. 1, 2014 from July 1, 2013 would be approved, but it was not brought up before the motion to vote on the bill was made.

Other bills

S1681/A2555: This bill would allow the transfer of a military commercial driver’s license to a commercial driver’s license.

It was released unanimously.

S2366: This bill establishes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  Employment and Training Provider Demonstration Project, an expansion of job placement efforts. It was released unanimously.

The Department of Human Services would form partnerships with agencies, including local governments, non-profit entities, institutions of higher education, foundations, or other eligible community-based organizations, to help SNAP recipients acquire the skills necessary to obtain regular employment.

Fifty percent of qualifying agencies’ demonstration project expenditures could be reimbursed.

Sponsor Sen. Ray Lesniak said New Jersey is losing out on millions of dollars in federal job training money.

Representatives of non-profits said their organizations would raise a 50 percent match of the funds for programs they said help change people’s lives.

S2413/A3270: This requires the Commissioner of Education to develop a career exploration report for students in grades 8 through 12 that would include items such as the fastest-growing industries, as well as salary rates for such jobs.

It was released unanimously. Tax break, jobs bills advance in Budget Comm.