On Monday, November 21, the Assembly passed A-4189, a compromise bill that will extend, for two years, Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) authorization in municipalities where the program is scheduled to sunset at the end of this year. (Those municipalities are Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield and Trenton.) The vote in the Assembly was 56-15. The Senate Economic Growth Committee will consider this bill on December 12.
Earlier this year, Governor Christie conditionally voted A-2576/S-1080, which would have extended UEZ designation for participating municipalities for another 10 years. With his conditional veto, the Governor asked instead that the Legislature direct the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs to conduct a study of the UEZ program “… which shall include, without limitation, an assessment of whether an alternative, location-based program to assist fiscally distressed municipalities is appropriate, and, if so, recommendations for the parameters of such a program …”
Respecting the Governor’s desire for a comprehensive analysis of the program, S-2670/A-4189 has been introduced as a compromise. The new legislation accepts the Governor’s recommendation regarding a DCA study of the program and research into alternatives. However, the bill provides a two-year extension to the five UEZs that are set to expire at the end of this year.
The UEZ Program – first created in 1983 – offers incentives to participating businesses, designed to encourage business growth and stimulate local economies. Approximately 6,800 certified UEZ businesses participate and benefit from the advantages of the UEZ program statewide. These include a number of tax and financial incentives, including tax credits to hire local workers. The program authorizes qualifying retail businesses in the UEZs to charge and collect the State’s sales and use tax at one-half of the normal rate.
Those incentives allow businesses to attract customers to, and create employment opportunities in, economically distressed municipalities. UEZ designation is a vital tool in the tool kit of local leaders, working to bring their communities back from decades of decline, caused by housing and transportation policy decisions over which they had no control.
Please SUPPORT S-2670/A-4189. Absent action on these bills, businesses in five municipalities will lose UEZ benefits at year’s end.
Michael Cerra, Asst. Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x120
Jon Moran, Sr. Legislative Analyst, email@example.com, 609-695-3481 x121