Executives hoping to hear progress on the state's fiscal 2014 spending plan were disappointed when a Senate committee chairman started today's scheduled meeting four hours late and said the committee would not consider the budget.
Also falling by the wayside: Action on a key incentives bill, which has been much anticipated by business owners but has been met with a variety of delays.
The Senate Budget Committee chairman, Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) had said earlier today in a Facebook post that negotiations over the budget are ongoing.
The committee also is not expected to take up the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, the much-talked-about effort to revamp the state's package of business and job-creation incentives. The bill has already cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee, but still needs budget committee approval and a full Senate vote. An Assembly version passed the full Assembly last month.
If the Senate Budget Committee doesn't act on the bill today, it would have to meet again Wednesday or Thursday morning in order to get the bill to the floor of the full Senate on Thursday afternoon.
David Brogan, first vice president at the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said he remains optimistic the bill will clear the Senate this week.
"I don't think it will fall through the cracks," he said. "There's a tremendous effort, just as they're doing with the budget, to work out any outstanding issues before the session."
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, speaking this morning to the New Jersey chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, in Woodbridge, suggested she expects the bill to cross Gov. Chris Christie's desk next week.
"You are going to see a change in the (EDA) incentive package which the governor has already said he will sign," she said, "and that will increase businesses moving into New Jersey and staying in New Jersey."
She said the business tax incentives "will keep the large corporate businesses here and make New Jersey more attractive for growth."
Brogan said the Economic Opportunity Act and the budget are the two biggest issues for the business community at the moment. On the former, Brogan echoed Guadagno's comments, saying other states are coming up with innovative new ways to create jobs and entice businesses.
"We need to stay competitive," he said. "This program is going to be the best way we can do that.
As for the budget, Brogan said he's hopeful that a number of phased business-friendly changes will stay in the final budget. Those changes include reducing the minimum filing fee for S-corps, moving to a single sales factor, phasing out the transitional energy facility assessment and the extension of net-loss carry-forward provisions for small businesses.
All told, Brogan said those changed will save businesses more than a half-billion dollars in the coming fiscal year.