Amended incentives reform bill to be heard before Senate panel Thursday

Andrew George//June 10, 2015

Amended incentives reform bill to be heard before Senate panel Thursday

Andrew George//June 10, 2015

Though state Sen. Raymond Lesniak announced late last month that he would no longer be pursuing a moratorium on the state’s economic incentive programs, a bill he’s sponsoring calling for such a measure and other reforms to the programs is scheduled to come before the Senate Economic Growth Committee on Thursday.Lesniak (D-Union), who chairs the committee, said Wednesday that the bill will be amended to reflect a drop of the moratorium provision in favor of an agreement between the Economic Development Authority and Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, which will look to create a one-time and recurring annual evaluation process for the state’s two main incentive programs, the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program.

Though a staunch supporter of incentives, Lesniak initially called for a moratorium on the programs until Gov. Chris Christie’s administration produced an analytical report on their efficacy that is required under a 2007 law but has never been submitted to the Office of Legislative Services.

Lesniak has said that the EDA’s pending partnership with Rutgers, which he made public late last month, satisfies many of his concerns regarding evaluation of the programs, negating the need for a moratorium.

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The EDA has declined to comment on the agreement with Rutgers as it is still in the process of being finalized.

The bill will undergo another significant change Thursday. An included provision that would match the EDA’s net benefits test used in determining the viability of a project to the number of years an awarded company is obligated to the state will be amended to apply that change to projects not located within a Garden State Growth Zone.

Projects located within one of the state’s Garden State Growth Zones, which feature some of the most attractive incentive offerings available, will not be required to adhere to the provision.

What will stand untouched is a provision that require a prevailing wage be given to all building maintenance, custodial and security workers at a facility or project site receiving incentives.

Lesniak previously attempted to include the prevailing wage provision in the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, the landmark incentives legislation that he was a primary sponsor on, but later saw it fall to a line-item veto by Christie.

“I think that’s a very important component of the legislation,” Lesniak said.


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