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Lesniak Economic Stimulus Bill Approved In Senate

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Raymond J. Lesniak which would jump-start New Jersey’s economy was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 23-14, receiving final legislative approval.

“Even before the national recession, New Jersey’s economy has lagged behind the national economy for nearly a decade, with in-State private-sector job growth underperforming national statistics in even the rosiest economic times,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “In the four year period from 2003 to 2007, private sector employment grew nationally by 6.5 percent. By comparison, during that same time period in New Jersey, the private sector job base grew by only 2.3 percent.

“It’s obvious that the same old policies and adherence to the status quo will not change New Jersey’s economic viability, nor will it help us recover from the current national and global economic crisis,” added Senator Lesniak. “We need a sea change in job growth philosophy, and new policies to spur economic growth and private investment. My legislation provides the sort of transformational change we need which will jump-start economic activity in the Garden State.”

The Senator’s bill, S-2299, known as the “New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009,” would make various changes to New Jersey’s business growth and retention policies in order to stimulate the economy. The bill would create an Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant program to encourage developers to invest in qualifying economic redevelopment areas around the State; would authorize Newark and Elizabeth to impose a rental car tax and administrative fees through local ordinance to fund local redevelopment activities; and would expand the New Jersey Emerging Technology and Biotechnology Financial Assistance Program, which supports small technology businesses in approved innovation zones, to technology companies anywhere in the State.

The bill also makes more businesses eligible for the Transit Hub Tax Credit program; suspends the Non-Residential Developer Fee imposed last year by affordable housing legislation; appropriates $15 million to the State Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and makes provisions to allow municipalities to be relieved of their affordable housing obligations whenever the Non-Residential Developer Fee is not imposed and there isn’t enough funding in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to assist in the production of affordable units; allows State Universities and Colleges to submit long-term facilities plans and contract with private entities to assume full financial and administrative responsibility for an on-campus project; and would allow recycled material manufacturing companies to obtain a tax credit for the cost of taxes and surcharges on energy and utility service.

“Our State’s business policies have failed in encouraging new private-sector job opportunities for New Jersey’s residents, and have often discouraged economic expansion and business growth,” said Senator Lesniak. “Rather than keep following the failed policies that will only lead to economic stagnation and decay, we need new policies which promote real job growth. The reforms contained in the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act are a start, but we need to continue moving the State in the right direction to sustainable, substantial economic growth and job expansion.”

The bill was approved earlier in the day in the Assembly by a vote of 49-27, with two abstentions. It now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.

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