The Legislature’s top elected official dangled the prospect of a veto override if talks fall through for New Jersey’s next set of economic incentives, after Gov. Phil Murphy rejected an extension last week of the state’s controversial corporate tax breaks.
“We can always override the [conditional veto], but that’s not what we’re looking at right now,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, told reporters after a Monday morning voting session. “We’ve had dialogue with him.”
“I would prefer to try to find a solution,” the senate president added. “Not having an incentive program is hurting the state.”
Murphy last week vetoed Assembly Bill 5343, which would have extended the now-expired Grow New Jersey corporate tax breaks until January while he and legislative leadership hash out a new set of incentives.
A veto override requires 27 votes in the state Senate and 54 votes in the Assembly.
Sweeney told reporters that he did not push the override through on Monday because not enough lawmakers were present at the Senate voting session.
It is not clear whether he has the votes—even though the bill passed by a veto-proof majority in both houses, lawmakers could end up voting against the veto, as had been the case under former-Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.
“The governor has presented a broad-based tax incentive package to the Legislature and we’re hopeful lawmakers will concur with the conditional veto and approve this program,” Daryl Isherwood, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, said in a statement. “The suite of incentives laid out by the governor is transparent, targeted, capped and will ensure that not just businesses will benefit but also the communities in which they reside.”
The office of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District. did not immediately comment on Sweeney’s Monday remarks.
In a prior statement, the governor called the program “severely flawed” and said that it only benefited politically connected businesses and individuals at the expense of lower-income communities which the tax incentives are meant to help.
Murphy said in his 143-page veto message that he would only approve the bill if it included the five tax incentives he proposed in October, which would be capped at $400 million a year and last through 2024.
Legislative leadership, including Sweeney, has stood in opposition to those very incentives, but Sweeney on Monday did elaborate his stance on the proposals.
The Senate tax incentive committee is holding two hearings next month, one on Sept. 5 and the other on Sept. 23, but the speaker list has not yet been made available.