Assembly Budget Committee releases economic incentive bills

TRENTON – The Assembly Budget Committee began releasing bills today designed to address the state’s  economy pre- and post-Sandy.

Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Vincent Prieto said in his opening that, “Rebuilding from Sandy is going to be a tough task for us.  We will rebuild and be back.”

He said that even before the storm,  “Our economy was lagging behind the rest of the nation. We have to give businesses the tools to grow.”

He pointed out that the state has been missing its revenue targets and suffering from a jobless rate that is worse than much of the country.

A955: This bill, passed 8-2 along party lines, establishes the Workforce Shortage Loan Redemption Program within the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. 

The program will provide for the redemption of a portion of loan expenses of participants for each year of service in a field in which a shortage of qualified labor exists in the state.

An earlier version of this bill was passed but vetoed last year.

A1084/S581:   This bill, the “New Jersey Angel Investor Tax Credit Act,” revives the expired Small New Jersey-based High Technology Business Investment Tax Credit by establishing credits against corporation business and gross income taxes for investing in New Jersey emerging technology businesses. It passed 8-2 along party lines. 

The credits equal ten percent of a taxpayer’s qualified investment in an emerging technology company with fewer than 225 employees, of whom at least 75 percent are filling a position in New Jersey. 

The permanent program is subject to a $25 million annual cap.  In addition, tax credit recipients cannot claim tax credits for that part of an investment in a single company that exceeds $500,000. 

This bill also was passed but vetoed last year.

Supporters include the Chemistry Council of N.J. and BioNJ.

Panel member Gary Chiusano, R-24, Sparta, questioned whether this bill targets what he considers a true ‘angel’ investor concept, in which a person needs great amounts of capital to get an idea off the ground from an angel investor, as opposed to an already existing company that just needs more money to grow.

And Jay Webber, R-26, Parsippany, said angel investors are high net worth people already for whom this bill is unnecessary and somewhat contradictory considering Democrats’ continued attempts to hike taxes on high-end earners.

But committee member Albert Coutinho, D-29, Newark, said the bill is important because it targets emerging technologies to stimulate investment within the state. And Prieto reminded the panel that N.J. businesses will benefit in a post-Sandy environment from this incentive.

A1177: Directs New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Commission on Higher Education to promote the establishment of higher education and business partnerships.  It was released unanimously.

This bill early this year fell victim to a pocket veto when the governor did not act on it as the legislative session ended.

"The governor still has to come to bat."
—Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, on Atlantic City.