A state Assembly committee has advanced a bill that would lift the cap of the Urban Transit Hub tax credit program by $250 million, one of the bill’s sponsors said.
Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Newark) said the bill, which was considered today by the budget committee, also would extend the program’s application deadline by about 18 months, to July 2014, to make it coincide with the newer Grow New Jersey Assistance Program.
A raised cap would address some concerns about the rate at which the state is approaching the $1.5 billion cap on the program. Over the past year, the state has doled out several large tax credits under the program, which offers incentives to companies that make capital investments in cities across the state.
Coutinho’s bill is a tempered version of a measure introduced in February that would have lifted the cap by $1 billion. The earlier bill would have likely faced resistance from Gov. Chris Christie, Coutinho said, because the Economic Development Authority is currently evaluating the Urban Transit Hub program and reviewing its application pipeline.
But the newer bill represents a compromise and stopgap to help the EDA keep up with the demand for the program until September, Coutinho said. The EDA is expected to release the findings of its evaluation at that time, but there are no guarantees that a bill would be successful in the fall, he said.
“Because of political realities, we may not be able to legislatively do anything until Thanksgiving. That’s just the reality of the process,” he said. “So we wanted to make sure we don’t have EDA there without anything. If there’s a good opportunity that will help the state and put people to work, we don’t want EDA to run out.
Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) said today that a mirroring bill would be considered in the Senate. He expects the bill to be ready for the governor’s signature by Thursday, he said.