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New Jersey Policy Perspective President Brandon McKoy.

Progressives renew call for tax incentive reform

NJPP report found just 2% of new Camden jobs went to city residents

By Nikita Biryukov, September 18 2019 3:48 pm

Progressive groups renewed their call for a set of reforms to the state’s tax incentive programs following the release of a new report by New Jersey Policy Perspective Wednesday.

“As negotiations begin over a new tax incentive program, New Jersey lawmakers have the opportunity to fix a broken system that cost over $11 billion and was rigged to allow companies to fudge numbers, conceal new hiring, lie about plans to relocate out of state, and reap enormous profits through the tax credit application process,” said Working Families State Director Sue Altman. “Any new legislation must focus on creating opportunities for working families and underserved communities.”

The activists are seeking six reforms that include measures to ensure local and minority hires, cap tax incentives and improve the Economic Development Authority’s oversight of the tax breaks it metes out, among other things.

Two tax incentive programs administered by the EDA, Grow NJ and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program, are at the center of an ongoing feud between Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“I urge that the legislators who are involved in these critical conversations ensure that prevailing wage for building service workers for subsidized development projects in New Jersey makes it through passage and signage of the bill, and to enact the reforms in the Governor’s conditional veto,” 32BJ SEIU Vice President and New Jersey State Director Kevin Brown said. “The Senate needs to do the right thing and prioritize New Jersey’s working families.”

NJPP’s report found that the New Jersey tax incentives cost far more per job than did programs in other states.

In Camden, the seat of power for South Jersey kingmaker George Norcross, a close Sweeney ally, the findings were even grimmer.

“The absence of an affirmative action officer and the failure to impose community benefits agreements in Camden projects equals 27 construction jobs out of 1,098,” Camden community advocate Amir Khan said. “A whopping 2%. Utterly ridiculous.”

The Senate Select Committee on Economic Growth Strategies, which is tasked to identifying positive reforms for the state’s tax incentive programs, is set to hold its next hearing on Sept. 23.

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