By Tara Nurin (Courtesy of NJ Spotlight)
New Jersey state lawmakers have given final legislative approval to what some are calling the biggest overhaul to the state’s corporate incentives system in history. This, despite the lack of a spending cap on the total award, making it impossible to predict the cost to the state.
Thursday afternoon, senators quickly and nearly unanimously consented to a conditional veto of the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 -- a bill that streamlines and expands access to tax credits for businesses that create jobs and make capital investments in the state. With approval granted by the General Assembly on Tuesday, the bill now moves to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk for his expected signature.
The 82-page bill took 14 months to wind its way through Trenton. Along the way it encountered bitter opposition from environmentalists, foes of big government, members of the majority party, and even the primary senate sponsor himself. Last spring, it passed both houses in forms too different to be reconciled and, after months of negotiations and the addition of enough amendments to double its length, it met the governor’s conditional veto pen before finally passing both chambers this week.
But the drama didn’t end there. On Wednesday, one day after pushing the act through the assembly, primary sponsor Al Coutinho (D-Newark) suddenly resigned. Thursday morning, the circumstances surrounding his resignation grew clearer when the attorney general’s office announced charges that the 44-year-old chair of the commerce and economic development committee had stolen funds from his charitable foundation and filed false disclosure statements.
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