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Airport growth zone bills sent back to Legislature

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Gov. Phil Murphy bounced two bills back to the Legislature that advocates say would have spurred economic development and growth in South Jersey.

Assembly Bill 3676 would have created a Garden State Growth Zone around the Atlantic City International Airport.

Under A3676, businesses that set up shop within one mile of the airport or the Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center – which both make up an "aviation district" – would be eligible for tax incentives to help alleviate business costs.

Senate Bill 250 would have extended the Grow New Jersey tax incentive program to areas around airports with $5,000 in tax credits per employee for businesses that open up in an economic redevelopment area near the airport.

Murphy called into question the effectiveness of the Grow NJ tax credits, which number in the billions of dollars, as his reason for vetoing the expansion of the program proposed under S250.

As his reasoning for vetoing A3676, he said the GSGZ program should sunset on July 1, 2019, along with Grow NJ and the Economic Redevelopment & Growth Program.

“I continue to believe that we must fully examine the merits of these tax incentive programs in light of evidence that they have been less effective than those in other states,” Murphy said.

The governor also took issue with how A3676 would have met the minimum employee requirement for a business to be eligible for the tax credit by requiring eligible business to have at least 10 new or 25 full-time employees, and allowing independent contractors to count as eight tenths of a full-time employee.

“An independent contractor does not enjoy the same rights as a full-fledged employee,” Murphy said. “I believe that businesses should only be eligible for these special tax incentives if they are hiring individuals who are afforded the protections and benefits of full-time employment.”

Senator Jeff Van Drew, D-1st District, who represents Atlantic City and Cape May, said the veto would deny much-needed economic growth to south Jersey.

“South Jersey is hurting, and needs this type of economic growth. We were finally able to find an industry that had the potential to grow in our state, we need these things. ” Van Drew said in a prepared statement. “South Jersey needs to diversify its economic. We cannot depend solely on tourism and casinos alone.”

The governor did say he was on board with keeping the Pinelands Development credit, included in A3676, arguing the need for redevelopment in the area.

“Pinelands preservation is required under law and should not be disturbed, but the Pinelands Protection Act need not prevent sensible development, especially if additional growth can occur without impacting open space,” Murphy said.

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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