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Assembly Democrats on Thursday expressed said the Republicans failure to back legislation to stimulate economic activity and job creation in New Jersey will hurt efforts to encourage businesses to stay, expand and move to the state.

Assembly Democrats Albert Coutinho, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Angel Fuentes, Pamela Lampitt and Annette Quijano said Republican failure to support overriding Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of the bill (A-3353) sends the wrong message to the business community.

The vote was 45-32, with Republicans opposed and 54 votes needed to override a veto.

“One of the keys to jumpstarting economic development throughout our state is encouraging and promoting the retention and expansion of existing business and industry, while also attracting new ones,” said Coutinho (D-Essex). “This bill would have been a big step toward accomplishing those goals and ensuring we have what it takes to close the deal when the time is right. Thanks to the Republicans, we’ve lost that opportunity.”

The legislation would have established the New Jersey Closing Fund, which under the auspices of the state treasurer and New Jersey Economic Development Authority would provide financial assistance to business and industry projects that would significantly benefit the state but require additional reDests as an inducement to locate or remain in the state.

The bill would have required no immediate spending, with any spending based on Treasury approval of a New Jersey Economic Development Authority recommendation. Thus, the executive branch would have controlled whether the money was spent.

“Keeping businesses here and luring others to come and create jobs should be everyone’s priority,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer). “This was a responsible approach to create jobs and boost revenue once our economy is rolling strong again. It’s disappointing that Republicans have other priorities.”

“This was a responsible bill that would have created jobs and revived our economy just when it’s needed most,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We need to help businesses that employ our residents and entice others, and with this plan we would have finally been in position to do so.”

“Only projects that will bring a positive financial benefit to our state, and thus our workers, would have been eligible for this help,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “This was the right thing to do and the right time to do it to position our economy to thrive.”

“Let’s face it, competition from neighboring states is fierce right now in this economy,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Anything we can do to induce successful businesses to stay or relocate in New Jersey and create lasting employment for our residents is worthwhile. Unfortunately, the Republicans don’t agree.”