Lawmakers send Amazon incentives bill to Christie

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A bill that would provide billions of dollars in tax incentives to Amazon if it locates its HQ2 headquarters in New Jersey, and paves the way for similar offers for other companies in the future, cleared both houses of the Legislature on Monday and is headed to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

The bill allows for at least $3 billion in tax credits if a company creates a minimum of 30,000 new jobs. In its request for proposals, Amazon said it planned to invest $5 billion and create at least 50,000 new jobs.

“Bringing Amazon to New Jersey is a priority. It will create good-paying, permanent jobs,” said Assembly Minority Leader John Bramnick (R-Westfield). “The company’s Seattle campus is a boon to the city’s economy. We have an opportunity to do the same in our state. This legislation will make us more competitive and help bring similar companies to New Jersey, which will stimulate the economy. We must compete in today’s competitive market with other states.”

The bill passed the Assembly with a 61-10 vote.

One of the dissenting votes in the state Senate, which passed the bill 30-3, came from Sen. Mike Doherty (R-Washington), an advocate of small businesses.

“New Jersey shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers, nor should we give special tax breaks to a company that’s driving our mom-and-pop shops out of business,” he said. “Everyone’s talking about hypothetical jobs that Amazon might create in New Jersey if we give them billions of dollars, but they’re not talking about the thousands of retailers on our Main Streets that will go out of business as a result of this sweetheart deal. If we’d allow New Jersey to take its foot off the necks of our business community, we’d see a resurgence across multiple industries. Instead of watching more of our businesses move to lower-tax states or shut down completely, we’d be a magnet for companies like Amazon without the need for any special deals.”

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) said the jobs are a key reason to pass the bill.

“Bringing permanent, good-paying jobs and significant economic development into New Jersey is a top priority,” he said. “This bill is unique, but Amazon offers a rare opportunity to bring a major, growing corporation into our state that will employ thousands of our residents for decades to come and bring expansive tangential economic benefits. This is about jobs, jobs and more jobs, and even more jobs on top of those.”

Sen. Sam Thompson (R-Old Bridge) said the state shouldn’t overlook an opportunity that has bipartisan support.

“There’s bipartisan consensus that New Jersey should compete for Amazon’s HQ2 and other transformative projects that have the potential to yield massive benefits to the state’s economy,” he said. “When a company like Amazon is looking to invest billions and create tens of thousands of jobs, we simply cannot afford to be overlooked. This legislation sends the message that New Jersey is a serious contender.”