Mostly cheers for new tax incentive programs

The agreement between Gov. Phil Murphy, state Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin on new tax incentives for the state announced Tuesday night — incentives that could total $11.5 billion over six years — drew strong support from business groups and unions.

(See the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce reaction here.)

Not everyone was happy, however.

Here’s a look at some of the key points in the bill.

And here’s a look at statements about the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 that were released Wednesday. They are listed in alphabetical order by the speaker’s last name:

Sue Altman, state director, New Jersey Working Families

“We are deeply disappointed that Gov. Murphy, Assembly Speaker Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney are fast-tracking a new deal to jam through billions of dollars in corporate tax incentives that New Jersey cannot afford — with almost no time for the public to analyze and comment on the proposals.  

“We saw a sham process like this in 2013 — and that resulted in ongoing investigations and a historic New Jersey political scandal. 

“This deal violates fundamental principles of good government and transparency while devoting money the state does not have to pad the pockets of corporations and prop up a cottage industry of politically connected consultants and attorneys.” 

Regina Egea, president, Garden State Initiative

“The immense size and scope of the reported tax incentive package serves to prove that New Jersey’s overall cost of doing business is simply not competitive with other states. Aligning our spending and tax structure to reflect today’s market realities would be a better use of the Legislature’s and the governor’s energy.”

Brandon McKoy, president, New Jersey Policy Perspective

“Fast-tracking an $11.5 billion corporate tax incentive program is a slap in the face to New Jersey taxpayers. Study after study, as well as New Jersey’s own recent history, shows that corporate tax breaks have little effect on job creation or the broader economy. Instead, they rob the Treasury of much-needed funds and make it difficult to invest in areas of proven economic growth, like public schools and transit infrastructure.

“Good government groups and grassroots activists have fought for years to rein in and reform New Jersey’s runaway corporate tax subsidy program. While this bill includes important oversight and independent review provisions to help prevent fraud and abuse, those safeguards are completely undermined by the bloated $11.5 billion price tag. There is no doubt that this will do long-term damage to the state’s already strained finances. It also normalizes a comically high level of subsidies and cements New Jersey’s status as woefully out of line with the development programs of comparable states. Simply put, New Jersey cannot afford this deal.”

Carlos Medina, CEO and president, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey

“The fact that a $50 million direct Main Street appropriation is included in this program is proof that Trenton has listened and that they recognize the value of New Jersey’s small and diverse businesses. New Jersey’s more than 120,000 Hispanic businesses appreciate the cooperation that it took to get this done.”

Christina Renna, CEO, Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey

“The CCSNJ applauds all involved in crafting the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020. This act will reestablish a tax incentive program in New Jersey, which is a vital tool to attract and retain businesses and crucial to the state’s overall economic recovery. The need for incentives in New Jersey is undeniable, and particularly so following the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the business community.

“We look forward to learning more details on the proposal, which we hope will encourage both larger- and smaller-scale incentives for businesses of all sizes, as well as geographic considerations regarding where projects can be located. These types of provisions, as well as assuring the programs are not laborious to apply for and comply with long-term, will not only ignite the state’s economic recovery, but make New Jersey more competitive.”

Tony Russo, president, Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey

“New Jersey’s tax incentive program is critically important to the business community. The intent of incentives is to keep and attract private-sector jobs to our state, which in turn strengthens our economy. Given the economic hardships faced by many of our businesses due to the pandemic, this program is needed now more than ever.

“The governor and legislative leadership should be applauded for their efforts in developing the program and understanding the value our businesses bring to our residents, communities and the state.”

Michele Siekerka, CEO, New Jersey Business & Industry Association

“We are encouraged to hear that innovation, workforce development and manufacturing are prioritized in this framework. We do believe these are key to economic development in the state. While we await the final language of the bill, we are hopeful there is an appropriate focus on Main Street business, particularly as we continue to emerge from the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Over the past two years, NJBIA has voiced concerns about caps being included in any new tax incentive program, contending that we may be effectively capping our own success. However, we understand that the bill contains a large enough multiyear cap with needed flexibility, which should allay most of those concerns.”