A new bill would extend the controversial, multi-billion dollar Grow New Jersey tax breaks for another year past its July 1, 2019 expiration, despite assurances from Gov. Phil Murphy that he would rather let the program expire with nothing in its place.
Under Assembly Bill 5343, which Assembly Budget Chair Eliana Pintor-Marin, D-29th District, introduced last week, the state would extend Grow NJ and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth gap financing program through July 1, 2020.
Pintor-Marin said she would like to keep talks on the new tax incentives and the budget separate – a challenging endeavor given a resolution must be met on both by July 1 – and a short-term extension of Grow NJ for a year would make that possible.
“I just think that right now, they’re complicated… and I just think that we need to let cooler heads prevail and we need to kind of let the budget process play out and then we have those negotiations,” Pintor-Marin previously told NJBIZ.
The Murphy administration has ramped up its scrutiny of Grow NJ since a January audit from the state comptroller found that the Economic Development Authority, tasked with overseeing the program, failed to thoroughly vet recipients of billions of dollars of tax credits awarded between 2005 and 2017 to make sure that they actually needed the incentives, and lacked the means to thoroughly monitor compliance with the program.
A task force Murphy convened following the audit’s release found earlier in May that corporations, businesses and lobbying firms with strong ties to insurance executive and South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross crafted the Grow NJ program to benefit themselves, or unethically won the lion’s share of the tax breaks for moving to Camden.
“I’d rather go with nothing than extend this because this is not going to go on,” Murphy said of the program later in May. The governor has pushed for a set of five new incentives capped at $400 million a year.
Supporters of Grow NJ and opponents of the task force have dismissed its efforts and findings as political in nature.