Caputo, Prieto, Schaer, Vainieri Huttle, Mukherji, Lagana,Eustace, Caride, Jimenez & Johnson Bill Would Allow Two North Jersey Casinos, Provide Significant Funding for Programs & Property Tax Relief for Seniors and Disabled & Help Atlantic City and Horse Racing Industry
The Assembly Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democratic lawmakers to ask voters to allow casino gaming in North Jersey and use money from that expansion to provide significant funding for programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents, along with help for Atlantic City and the horse racing industry.
Under current law, casino gambling is permitted only in Atlantic City, but the constitutional amendment proposed by Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo, Speaker Vincent Prieto, Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Raj Mukherji, Joseph Lagana, Tim Eustace, Marlene Caride, Angelica Jimenez and Gordon Johnson would allow the Legislature to pass laws to permit casinos in two northern New Jersey counties.
Once established, for the first 15 years, 63 percent of the state revenues would be dedicated as follows: 48 percent for the same purposes as Atlantic City casino revenues – programs for seniors and disabled persons; and 52 percent for state aid to each county and municipality in the state for programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents.
Meanwhile, 35 percent would be dedicated for the purposes of recovery, stabilization or improvement of Atlantic City.
The rest would go toward the horse racing industry.
“This is a game-changing proposal for New Jersey taxpayers,” said Caputo (D-Essex), chairman of the Assembly gaming committee. “We would modernize our gaming industry and provide significant relief for senior citizens and disabled residents. It’s truly a win for everyone.”
“I’ve long said North Jersey gaming was a matter of when, not if, and with this proposal, voters will get the chance to strengthen our state’s financial future,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “A modernized gaming industry will compete with other states and provide a hefty infusion of money for programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents. This bill does the right thing for both Atlantic City and our senior and disabled residents. This is something everyone can support.”
Under the proposal, if approved by voters, state law would determine the location and type of casinos and the gambling games that may be conducted. The law would also determine the tax rate to be levied upon the gross gaming revenues derived from the gambling operations.
The amendment specifies that the state revenues derived from the new casinos would be credited to a special New Jersey Investment Fund.
Commencing in the first state fiscal year in which state revenues are derived and for the subsequent 15 State fiscal years:
- 35 percent would be dedicated for the purposes of the recovery, stabilization, or improvement of the city of Atlantic City, and
- 63 percent of the amount would be dedicated as follows: 48 percent for the same purposes as Atlantic City casino revenues – programs for seniors and disabled persons; and 52 percent for state aid to each county and municipality in the state for programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents.
- The money remaining in the investment fund in each state fiscal year shall be dedicated for the purposes of programs designed to aid the thoroughbred and standardbred horsemen in this state.
For the next subsequent 10 state fiscal years, the percentage applied for the purposes of Atlantic City above would decrease by 1.5 percent from the prior state fiscal year percentage, and the percentage applied for the purposes of programs and property tax relief for senior and disabled residents would increase by 1.5 percent from the prior state fiscal year percentage.
Thereafter, 20 percent of revenues remaining in the investment fund in each state fiscal year would be applied for the purposes of Atlantic City, and 78 percent would be applied for programs and property tax relief for senior and disabled residents.
“For a state sorely in need of new revenues for vital needs such as programs and property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled residents, this is a win-win,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. “This proposal would help bring a brighter economic future for our state.”
“This bill is the right thing to do for our gaming industry, Atlantic City and our senior and disabled residents,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We can bring top-flight northern New Jersey while helping Atlantic City, benefiting everyone and ensuring New Jersey remains competitive.”
“This bill is about keeping New Jersey’s gaming industry relevant and viable, but it’s also about replenishing hundreds of millions in annual gross gaming revenues that we have lost to neighboring states in recent years and helping our seniors and disabled residents,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This is a common sense approach to modernizing our gaming industry.”
“With continuously encroaching competition from New York and Pennsylvania, the longer we wait the more our window of opportunity closes,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “New Jersey must stay competitive and ensure funding for vital programs and property tax relief.”
“We are losing gaming tourists to our neighbors and it is time we bring them back home to New Jersey, all while ensuring continued help for Atlantic City and viable funding for senior and disabled residents,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This is, quite simply, the right thing to do.”
“We must move forward with a sensible statewide gaming plan that creates permanent jobs and economic development, while providing sustainable funding for senior and disabled residents,” said Caride (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Bringing gaming to these North Jersey counties would benefit the entire state.”
“The economic growth that would come from first-class casinos must help the entire state,” said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen). “These counties have some of the most prized real estate in the Northeast, a talented labor pool and sit at the heart of major transportation corridors.”
“We cannot let this chance go by to modernize our gaming industry and boost essential programs for senior and disabled residents,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “All in all, this is the most sensible approach.”
As a proposed constitutional amendment, the bill must now sit on the desks of lawmakers for 20 days before being considered by the full Assembly. It must also receive a public hearing.