Time is running out to save N.J.’s tax incentive programs

Policymakers, including the Legislature and the Governor’s Office, all agree — tax incentives are an important and effective tool in New Jersey’s economic development toolkit.

In fact, everyone agrees that the absence of an effective program leaves New Jersey ill-equipped to compete regionally to attract and retain businesses, because of the high cost of doing business in the state. Tax incentives are necessary to help level the playing field.

With time running out, we are facing the real prospect of having no tax incentive program in place come July 1, when the current Grow New Jersey and Economic Redevelopment & Growth programs expire. With one month to go, policymakers must find consensus on a program that will provide that needed transition time to a more comprehensive set of programs. Absent a robust program, rest assured that site selectors will remove New Jersey from their consideration and New Jersey-based companies that today are considering whether to stay or go will just give up and move on.

Currently, Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed his new incentive plans, and hearings have begun to investigate current programs and possibly change them.

Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Newark) has introduced legislation to put a temporary fix in place in order to gain time to more fully examine New Jersey’s incentive plans.

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) has just assembled a committee to examine existing tax incentives with the intent of making recommendations for improvements.

However, the problem we face is that all three of these initiatives will take time — and we have very little of that.

We respectfully urge that the governor, Senate president and Assemblywoman Pintor Marin collaborate on a plan that will provide a temporary transition to a more permanent solution before June 30, when New Jersey will be void of incentives. Absent this, New Jersey’s economy is at risk for the continued job growth our policy makers want and our state needs.

Tom Bracken is CEO and president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. Greg Lalevee is business manager of IUOE Local 825. Ray Pocino is vice president of the New Jersey Laborers Union. Michele Siekerka is CEO and president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.