Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said the report issued by Gov. Phil Murphy’s task force, created to investigate abuses of tax incentives meted out by the Economic Development Authority, was concerning.
“The initial report from the Governor’s task force on the EDA raises very troubling questions about accountability, effectiveness and transparency which must be addressed by the state legislature,” Weinberg said. “The questions are as disturbing as those raised by the issues surrounding the School Development Authority, all of which need to be addressed.”
The report, released Monday, highlighted abuses of the EDA’s incentives allegedly committed by a number of firms, some of which have ties to South Jersey kingmaker George Norcross.
Though the report largely rehashed findings already made public during either of the committee’s two public hearings, it also contained a number of previously-undisclosed emails that lent credibility to claims that some Norcross-connected firms filed false or misleading applications for aid.
“While law enforcement will appropriately examine any issues of alleged criminality, we need to construct a new EDA law with a board that will provide the appropriate oversight and make certain that tax credits are awarded fairly with strong standards for effectiveness.
The Schools Development Authority has come under fire for a series employee purges under former SDA CEO Lizette Delgado-Polanco that were followed by the hiring of employees with personal and familial ties to the former state Democratic vice chairwoman.
No panels have been convened to investigate those hires, but a select Senate committee has been formed to review the EDA’s incentive programs.
The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee will conduct similar inquiries.
“I look forward to the Senate Select Committee working with care and expediency so we can get on with the necessary work that is building and growing the New Jersey economy,” Weinberg said. “To that end, we must also work with the Governor’s office to keep the important tax credits already in the pipeline moving forward, while engaging the business community in the future of the EDA.”