TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed 14 bills meant to spur jobs creation on Friday, saying the sponsors failed to identify any money to pay for the business tax breaks and incentives they approved.
The bills provided financial incentives to spur job growth in a state where unemployment remains above 9 percent. Collectively, the bills would have cost $600 million in lost revenue the first year and billions of dollars over time, the governor said.
“This is the old way of Trenton politics, which always ends with the taxpayers footing the bill and has created the fiscal crisis we have spent the last year beginning to turn around,” Christie said in his veto message on each of the bills. “Now is not the time for a return to the way business was done in Trenton in the past.”
The governor has until Monday to take action on about six remaining jobs bills the Democrat-controlled Legislature sent him early last month.
Christie said he’ll propose some of the same business tax incentives on Tuesday, but within the context of a balanced budget, not supplemental spending. He declined to elaborate on which tax cuts or business incentives he would propose.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who sponsored one of the vetoed bills, and other Democratic leaders were immediately critical of the Republican governor’s decision.
“New Jersey’s unemployed want real hope for a new job and our small businesses need a chance for a much-needed tax break,” Sweeney said in a statement Friday. “The governor today just brushed them both aside.”
Assembly Democratic Leader Joe Cryan called the vetoes “disgusting.”
Christie said that’s high praise coming from his political nemesis.
The bills were sponsored by Democrats, though a few were co-sponsored by Republicans.
Democrats who lead the Legislature hailed the bill package as an accelerant for New Jersey’s stagnant economy. They named the package “Back to Work NJ” and proposed it with fanfare during a Statehouse news conference. Some Republicans criticized the effort as an attempt by the majority party to take back the agenda from Christie, who had been prodding them to enact his toolkit proposals to help cap property tax increases.
One of the vetoed bills would have encouraged investment in companies specializing in emerging technology. Another revised the gross income tax code to allow businesses to carry forward some net losses for 20 years. Another bill provided tax credits for renovating historic properties, while a companion measure gave tax credits to film and digital media companies operating in New Jersey. Other bills in the package provided tax credits for intern labor, helped employers hire former prisoners and made it easier for women- and minority-owned businesses to qualify for Economic Development Authority loans.
New Jersey has consistently ranked at or near the bottom in business friendliness, compared with other states.
One of Christie’s priorities as governor has been to rehabilitate New Jersey’s image, and to make businesses want to relocate or remain in the state. He put Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in charge of slashing red tape and unnecessary business regulations. And, he recently embarked on an ad campaign targeting businesses in Illinois, where taxes have been increased substantially to help balance that state’s budget.
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