Gov. Phil Murphy said he was “jaw-dropped” and “awe-struck” by the overwhelming, veto-proof majority of Senate and Assembly lawmakers that supported a seven-month extension of the outgoing corporate tax breaks, which he has promised to veto.
The measure extends the Grow New Jersey corporate tax breaks and the Economic Redevelopment and Grow gap financing program for seven months beyond their July 1 deadline, so that lawmakers will have more time to hash out a new set of economic incentives to attract business to the state.
Senate lawmakers approved the measure in a 28-2 vote, while the Assembly approved it in a 64-9 vote with three abstentions.
“That takes my breath away,” Murphy said at a press conference Friday afternoon. “The [Economic Development Authority] extension, it’s quite clear that was written by special interests for special interests.”
Murphy in January convened a task force scrutinizing the tax breaks, which has largely focused on South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross and how businesses close to him may have unfairly won lucrative tax breaks for moving to Camden. In a 75-page report released Monday, its findings detailed allegations and accompanying evidence that Kevin Sheehan – a lawyer at Parker McCay where George’s brother Philip is a partner – crafted the Grow NJ legislation to unfairly benefit clients of Philip and George, and businesses where George held a significant interest.
An hour after both chambers approved the extension Thursday, Murphy promised to veto the bill because it does not contain the changes he has sought—namely heavy caps on the annual amount of tax breaks awarded.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District – a supporter of Grow NJ, an ally of Norcross and one of Murphy’s biggest political opponents – opined that with just over a week before the incentives expire, lawmakers will need to extend the programs to avoid New Jersey going without any incentives.
But Murphy has assured that he and legislative leadership have ample time to agree on the new programs, pointing to his proposals which he unveiled in October.