Lawmakers Approve NJ Economic Opportunity Act

Assemblyman Albert Coutinho

Assemblyman Albert Coutinho

TRENTON – The State Senate approved a controversial bill that changes how New Jersey awards corporate tax subsidies by a 30-4 vote with four abstentions today.

The New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act has bounced back and forth between the Assembly and Senate as lawmakers amended it, almost doubling the length of the printed bill in the process. With today’s vote, the measure has received final legislative approval and heads to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

“This is a critical piece of legislation, and I am very pleased it passed the Senate today without amendment. This is a long-awaited big step in the right direction toward creating more jobs throughout our state and boosting our economy. Job creation and economic growth are shared priorities for all New Jerseyans, so this progress is good news for everyone,” said Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex), a sponsor of the bill.

“When all is said and done, we’ll have reformed economic development incentives to make them more effective, kept jobs in the state, set in motion plans to bring more jobs into the state and ensured economic growth will occur in places where development has been stagnant for years,” he added.

The New Jersey Sierra Club was very critical of the bill, arguing that it gives away tax dollars and will hurt some of the most environmentally sensitive areas of the state.

“This bill threatens some of the most environmentally sensitive areas left in New Jersey.  This will promote sprawl in places like the Highlands, Pinelands, and our last remaining open spaces,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club. “This nothing but pay to pave. Politically connected developers are getting public subsidies to destroy environmentally sensitive areas and threaten our water supply.  This is capitalism at its worst.”

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