Moratorium Proposal Has 'Immediate Chilling Effect'

Moratorium on incentives?

NJBIZ — Sunday, May 10, 2015

Grapevine By NJBIZ Staff

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) says he's still pro-incentives.

And by all accounts, he is.

But in a somewhat odd press conference last week, Lesniak, one of the crafters of 2013's landmark Economic Opportunity Act, stood side-by-side with advocacy groups like New Jersey Working Families and New Jersey Citizen Action, plus think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, in announcing his plans to introduce legislation that would impose a moratorium on the state's incentive programs if Gov. Chris Christie's administration does not work to produce a required report on their efficacy.

Lesniak began the news conference talking about how projects both old and new, from Jersey Gardens to Goya, have successfully utilized incentive offerings and in turn, brought jobs and investment to New Jersey rather than to out-of-state competitors.

After discussing the measure he plans on introducing, which would also include changes to the net benefits test used by the Economic Development Authority for determining if a project qualifies for incentives, he then said that he hopes the moratorium would never have to see the light of day and that the issue could be resolved with the unearthing of the report.

Yet, that's not what was echoed by some of those joining him at the podium.

Working Families Director Analilia Mejia, for instance, railed against the incentives altogether, calling them a "runaway train of giveaways."

Every dollar spent on incentives, Mejia said, should be another dollar spent on something like schools instead.

Lesniak would occasionally jump back in between speakers and reaffirm his support for incentives, while at the same time calling for a more thorough examination of how they are issued. He acknowledged the difference in opinions while still referring to the common ground they shared.

It was all rather confusing, some expressed to NJBIZ.

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