Christie actions to approve hub funds, veto hospital disclosures praised by industries

NJBIZ STAFF//August 9, 2012//

Christie actions to approve hub funds, veto hospital disclosures praised by industries

NJBIZ STAFF//August 9, 2012//

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Development community cheers expanded tax credits, while industry group notes transparency requirement could have kept for-profit hospital operators out of the state.

Gov. Chris Christie took different actions on bills affecting two different industries Tuesday, but in both cases, his moves won praise from business advocates.

Christie signed a bill providing $250 million in additional money for Urban Transit Hub tax credits, and conditionally vetoed a bill that would require financial disclosures by hospitals, according to a statement issued by his office Wednesday afternoon.

The Urban Transit Hub expansion was a downsized version of a $1 billion increase included in the original version of the bill.

Christie’s decision to sign the measure was praised by bill sponsors Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Newark) and Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union). However, Lesniak expressed concern with the change in leadership at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which oversees the program.

“Now I have to keep a closer tab on what they do with it,” Lesniak said of the funding, referring to the appointment of Michele Brown to succeed Caren S. Franzini as CEO of the agency.

Development attorney Ted Zangari, of Sills, Cummis & Gross, said the expansion would benefit the economy.

“It’s a great move on (Christie’s) part to fill what appears to be an insatiable demand by businesses to stay and grow or to come into New Jersey,” Zangari said, noting that businesses have been lining up to apply for the credits. “When we stop and think about it for a moment, this is a problem that most states would give anything to have.”

The hospital financial disclosure bill was conditionally vetoed by Christie, who instead suggested substitute language that would require state officials to review current disclosure requirements and make recommendations.

“The changes proposed by this bill require careful consideration to prevent the state from over-reaching into the business arena, while still acknowledging the importance of transparency for institutions receiving state funds,” Christie wrote in his veto statement. “This is an issue that calls for a holistic response and potentially significant reform.”

The move was praised by the New Jersey Hospital Association.

“We think the governor’s conditional veto is a good logical step,” said Kerry McKean Kelly, association vice president of communications and member services. “We certainly understand the supporters of the bill and their interest in transparency.”

McKean Kelly expressed concern that the bill would be a disincentive for new hospitals to come into the state at a time when many hospitals have closed.

“We appreciate that the governor has called for a more thorough examination of this issue through the Department of Health, and we look forward to seeing what they come up with,” she said.