Well, that didn't take long.
Roughly two months after Gov. Chris Christie signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, the state's long-awaited overhaul of business incentives, follow-up legislation will be heard Thursday by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
Aptly named the Economic Opportunity Act II of 2013, the bill is being sponsored by state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union). The second round of incentives features both new elements and some previously left out of the original act through a conditional veto by Christie. The proposed package includes:
- A relaxation of the requirement that a developer set-aside 20 percent of new residential units for low or moderate income homes. The bill would grant municipalities the ability to determine what percentage of newly constructed units are reserved for low or moderate income levels.
- Tax credits for the repurposing of former health care facilities as non-acute health care and health services support centers. Following approval from the EDA, such projects would be allowed tax credits of 50 percent of their capital investments, according to the bill.
- Additional tax credits of $200 million for the "redevelopment or rehabilitation of supportive housing, special needs housing, very low-income housing, low-income housing or moderate-income housing," but only in the cases when 100 percent of the redeveloped units are then made available as affordable housing units. As written, the bill gives priority consideration to qualified projects located in Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union counties.
- An extension of a $50 million limit on the total amount of appeal bonds to all appellants in a civil action, but with the understanding that a court may increase or decrease that amount given special circumstances.
- Coined as the "Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act," a section that includes an increase of the annual program cap from $10 million to $50 million for film production tax credits and an increase from $5 million to $10 million in credits for digital media productions. The act will also up the current 20 percent tax credit limit on eligible production expenses to 22 percent if those purchases are made in businesses located in one of the state's Urban Enterprise Zones.
Lesniak said this week that he expects this latest package of incentives to receive bipartisan support because "we still lag behind the region and nation in job creation."
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop will testify at Thursday's hearing on behalf of the film and digital media incentives legislation. He claims his city, as well as others across the state, have much to gain by expanding tax credits for the industry.