There is some progress on a compromise to extend New Jersey’s controversial tax-incentive program into next year following a private dinner between Gov. Phil Murphy’s top staffers and two former state senators who are acting as emissaries of Senate President Steve Sweeney.
The New Jersey Globe has learned that Murphy’s chief of staff, George Helmy, and deputy chiefs of staff Joe Kelley and Justin Braz, along with Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan, met for dinner Monday evening at da Benito in Union with former State Sens. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown) and Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth).
Sources told the Globe that the group made considerable headway on the spirit and framework on a solution that both Murphy and Democratic legislative leaders might agree to.
Specific issues involved in the deal were not immediately available.
Murphy conditionally vetoed the legislation nearly three weeks ago, calling the current law “demonstrably flawed.”
Legislators passed the extension in June despite the governor’s veto threat.
Instead, Murphy has called for the current tax incentive programs to be replaced by a series of business incentive programs.
“I ran for Governor and was elected on the promise to transform the State’s incentive programs so that the programs work for all New Jerseyans and not just connected political interests,” Murphy said in his veto message. “That is a promise I am keeping today.”
Sweeney brought Kyrillos and Lesniak in to help him assemble a replacement for the tax incentive programs last month.
The Senate President has said he was in no rush to override Murphy’s veto, although that possibility had existed.
The state’s tax incentive program has been the source of considerable controversy, especially after a task force appointed by Murphy alleged that political powerbroker George Norcross benefitted from the program.