Gov. Christie to Trenton: Drop Dead
(TRENTON) – Calling it a “devastating blow” to the capital city, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora on Wednesday lambasted Gov. Christie for conditionally vetoing legislation he sponsored (A-2576) that would have extended New Jersey’s Urban Enterprise Zones (UEZs) by an additional 10 years.
“In effect, the Governor is telling the City of Trenton, as well as many others, to ‘drop dead,'” said Gusciora (D -Mercer/Hunterdon). “Over the past year, Gov. Christie has made it very clear where his priorities and loyalties lie. It’s clear that he doesn’t care about New Jersey, her people, or her problems. This move is actively detrimental to thousands of businesses across the state, not only those who benefit directly through tax breaks, but those countless others who rely on them for supplies to conduct their operations.”
The state’s UEZ program, which was created in 1986, provides a wide range of benefits to businesses in certain economically and socially depressed areas, most notably allowing them to charge a reduced 3.5 percent sales tax rate. For decades, thousands of businesses around the state have opened up shop, provided jobs, and contributed to economic development under the program, which the Governor’s conditional veto unilaterally ends. Countless other enterprises benefit from the cost savings they experience by shopping in UEZs.
“Ending the UEZ program is going to force hundreds of establishments to close up or move, and will cost thousands their jobs and livelihood. It spells utter chaos for our revitalizing urban areas, which will see the precious progress they’ve made in the past thirty years reversed. It is a bona fide step in the wrong direction, though I suppose that sums up most of his tenure.”
While shy of an absolute veto, the Governor’s conditional veto removes all effectuating passages of the bill, and inserts new language that provides for a study that would investigate alternatives to the program. Christie’s veto attacked UEZs, ignoring their many successes in favor of a narrative that pointed to the “unsustainable” cost to the taxpayer.
“To call this a conditional veto is laughable. This ‘feckless’ Governor has removed all passages in the legislation with any bite, and in effect, created an entirely different bill,” Gusciora explained. “The original bill reaffirmed and extended the UEZ program. The Governor’s bill guts it and replaces it with a study commission designed to research potential alternatives. Instances like this represent executive overreach at its finest.
“This is a Governor who has chosen to ‘study to death’ and create more bureaucracy rather than take action on behalf of urban cities across the state.”
Gusciora concluded that, while the conditional veto is likely the death knell for New Jersey UEZs for the time being, he would continue working for urban revitalization and renewal.
“We may have lost the battle, but we’ll win the war. Even though he actively works against us, the Governor can’t stop our progress. New Jersey’s cities and towns will thrive, even if Christie fights us every step of the way,” concluded Gusciora.