NJ lawmakers seek ‘report card’ on billions in business incentives

 Gov. Chris Christie signs legislation in 2013 changing how the state awards tax breaks to businesses and developers. The bill consolidates New Jersey's five tax-incentive programs into two, one to give grants for creating jobs, the other to keep jobs from leaving the state. (AP file photo)

Gov. Chris Christie signs legislation in 2013 changing how the state awards tax breaks to businesses and developers. The bill consolidates New Jersey's five tax-incentive programs into two, one to give grants for creating jobs, the other to keep jobs from leaving the state. (AP file photo)

New Jersey lawmakers want more information about the incentive programs intended to attract and keep businesses in the state are working.

 

Lawmakers are considering a bill to require an audit every two years of the grants, loans, and tax credits the New Jersey Economic Development Authority awards to private corporations. Since 2010, it has awarded $5.2 billion in breaks to businesses.

The report card of sorts would detail any development project the business was required to complete, the number of jobs it promised to create, and the hiring that actually occurred.

Those markers would help measure the value of the incentives, said Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer.

“We know that so many of these business incentivization programs have appeared to make good sense on the surface, but only in retrospective a number of years later have we learned that we have not garnered the kind of results that we should have garnered,” said Schaer, D-Passaic.

Critics claim the taxpayer-funded incentive programs are falling short of the mark.

“Are they paying off? Have the conditions set in that grant letter … being met, and can we put a value on having the taxpayers effectively subsidize these program?” said Gordon MacInnes, president of the left-leaning New Jersey Policy Perspective. “We need to have much better information on what is the single arrow in New Jersey’s quiver to try and crawl out of the recession.”

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