Amazon Bill Passes in the Senate Over Doherty Objection

State Senator Kip Bateman called for a legislative investigation into the questionable last-minute bill changes to the Economic Opportunity Act allegedly made by an unregistered lobbyist with ties to South Jersey Democratic Party Power Broker George Norcross III.

One of just three to vote no in the upper chamber, state Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) opposed legislation (A-5340/S-3631) he said would give Amazon special tax incentives at the expense of other New Jersey businesses.

The bill provides the company with incentives to locate a facility that could create up to 50,000 jobs with an investment of $5 billion. The legislative plan, S-3631, sponsored by retiring Senator Raymond Lesniak and Senator Sam Thompson, also passed the Assembly.

“New Jersey has the features that would make us a great location for Amazon’s second world headquarters,” said Lesniak. “We have a skilled workforce, the best colleges and universities and a strategic location with access to highways, airports and shipping ports. This plan could help to attract good jobs and economic activity for years to come.”

The bill would create a “Transformative Headquarters Economic Assistance Program” under the administration of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to grant tax credits for establishing a corporate headquarters in New Jersey.

The Senate vote was 30-3.

According to the bill, the headquarters project would be required to create at least 30,000 new full-time jobs and represent a capital investment of at least $3 billion.

The project would also be required to yield a net benefit to the state of at least 115 percent of the tax credits the company receives. The net benefits test would be calculated for a period of fifty years. The business would be required to certify that the tax credit would be a material factor in its decision to build the transformative headquarters in New Jersey. The building complex would be required to be constructed following environmental and sustainability standards determined by the EDA.

“There’s bipartisan consensus that New Jersey should compete for Amazon‘s HQ2 and other transformative projects that have the potential to yield massive benefits to the state’s economy,” said Senator Thompson. “When a company like Amazon is looking to invest billions and create tens of thousands of jobs, we simply cannot afford to be overlooked. This legislation sends the message that New Jersey is a serious contender.”

In September 2017, Amazon announced its intent to build a second headquarter in North America – known as HQ2. According to Amazon’s documents, the company is willing to invest $5 billion in the project and create up to 50,000 new jobs. Amazon listed some criteria for the new location: It would be in a metropolitan area, in a stable and business-friendly environment, close to world-class universities and to transportation infrastructure, and with optimal connectivity to the internet. The project could generate an estimated $10 billion in direct and indirect economic activity.

Legislative leaders in both houses and from both parties acted quickly by stating their intention to craft an incentive plan that would provide Amazon savings based on new jobs and increased economic activity.

Amazon offers a rare opportunity to bring a major, growing corporation into our state that will employ thousands of our residents for decades to come,” said Lesniak. “Amazon is a modern company with a wide range of jobs – many of them in high tech or medium technology.”

The bill would allow an eligible business to receive a tax credit of $10,000 a year for each full-time job created at the headquarters. The eligibility period for each credit would last ten years, but the business would be allowed to carry it over fifty years. Because of the size of such project, the business would be allowed to phase in the project completion and the reception of tax credits, pursuant to an incentive agreement between the business and the EDA.


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