TRENTON – Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, and Chairman of the Senate Economic Growth Committee, issued the following statement before the Committee’s consideration of his bill, S-2485, which makes various reforms to the rules and mandates imposed by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). The bill was approved by a vote of 4-0, with one abstention:
“Our President Barack Obama, in his Inaugural address, said ‘What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.’
“Today, we will heed that wise advice.
“New Jersey, our new President and the new Congress – which includes two former members of this house, Leonard Lance and John Adler – are focused on taking action to boost our economy and reduce rising unemployment.
“New Jersey’s actions include legislation which increased aid to local food pantries, upped funding for home heating assistance and legal aid, increased the income cap for the Senior Freeze Property Tax program, amended the corporate business tax to help businesses, established the Main Street Businesses Assistance Program to help small and midsize businesses, and created a $3,000 tax credit for businesses that generated and maintained new jobs during this economic downturn. Pending legislation will enhance our current efforts by expanding urban hub tax credits and revenue allocation districts (RADs) and by suspending state taxes on profits from venture capital invested for high tech development.
“The committee substitute we will vote on today is another step towards economic health and job creation for New Jersey and its residents.
“Today’s hearing will focus on a committee substitute which would suspend the 2.5% tax on commercial, industrial and retail development and municipalities’ affordable housing obligation arising out of any development subject to the tax, unless the state provides the resources to pay for that obligation. It also provides additional resources for development of affordable housing.
“The 2.5% tax is an impediment to our economic recovery. Increasing costs of development to pay for affordable housing based on the number of jobs created damages job creation and is a disincentive to investment in our economy.
“There is much more work to be done. Our goal is to provide for the affordable housing needs of our residents in an environmentally sound manner using well established principals of smart growth and smart planning without damaging economic growth and job creation, which not only hurts all our residents, but also impedes the development of affordable housing as well.
“In the ensuing months, this committee will consider all legislation under its jurisdiction to meet that goal. The committee substitute we will be voting on today is a huge first step in that direction.”