Through a conditional veto on a supplemental bill to the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, Gov. Chris Christie proposed the expansion of incentive offerings for non-gaming projects in Atlantic City.Christie’s conditional veto issued Thursday seeks to clarify Atlantic City as the one of the state’s “Garden State Growth Zones,” which are currently limited to Camden, Passaic, Paterson and Trenton. For the designated municipalities, eligibility for the strongest available incentives is increased.
The recommendation will look to “further encourage non-gaming economic development and job growth in Atlantic City,” Christie wrote in the conditional veto.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), the bill’s sponsor, said he is “very supportive” of designating Atlantic City as a Garden State Growth Zone, but was “not pleased” with another portion of Christie’s conditional veto that removes language that would have provided an additional 10 percent of financing under the Economic Redevelopment and Growth program for projects located in Newark, Elizabeth, Hoboken, Jersey City, East Orange and New Brunswick.
Still, Lesniak said that, with what he feels are positive changes to include Atlantic City in the mix and the sense of urgency regarding that city’s economic welfare, he won’t look to fight Christie on the other portions of the conditional veto, adding that it’s “important to get this bill signed ASAP.”
“I’ll have to live with that,” Lesniak said.
Gordon MacInnes, president of liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, took issue with both the bill and Christie’s recommendation of designating Atlantic City as a Garden State Growth Zone.
“New Jersey policymakers should be responding to the unprecedented surge in business tax subsidies by making the state’s programs more effective, imposing greater discipline on incentive awards and increasing accountability and transparency,” MacInnes said in a statement. “This bill, for the most part, does the opposite and is yet another step in the wrong direction. And the governor’s conditional veto, while making a few improvements to the legislation, will open the floodgates even more by expanding some of the state’s most lucrative and poorly-measured incentives to Atlantic City.”
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