Select Committee Looking into EDA Releases List of Those Scheduled to Testify

The special Senate committee established to review the state’s tax incentive programs and make recommendations on the best strategies for utilizing incentives to promote economic growth will hold its first hearing on Monday, Senator Bob Smith, the panel’s chair, said today.

The bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Economic Growth Strategies will meet at 10:00 a.m., Monday, July 29, in Committee Room 4 of the State House Annex to hear from those with a working knowledge of the Economic Development Authority’s GROW NJ and Economic Redevelopment & Growth Grant programs, and to discuss ways to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of incentives.

“We want to get a fair and true accounting of the successes and shortcomings of the state’s tax incentive programs so that we can determine how they can be improved and how we can develop broader strategies for economic growth,” said Senator Smith. “This is especially important now that the two EDA programs have expired and the state is without a flagship incentive program to attract businesses and create jobs. We want to engage in a productive and open-minded assessment so we know how to move forward. We won’t hesitate to be critical, but we want to emphasize constructive criticism that can be used for productive purposes.”

“I look forward to getting started with this important review of our economic development programs and how to improve them. We all wish we did not need tax incentives to attract and retain businesses to New Jersey, but the reality is that most states, including our neighbors, heavily utilize them. With New Jersey’s current uncompetitive business tax structure, they are an unfortunate necessity,” said Senator Joe Pennacchio, the committee’s vice chair. “We need to keep a watchful eye on them to ensure they are justified, well-managed, and get the most bang for the buck for our taxpayers. My colleagues on this select committee will work on a bipartisan basis to improve their effectiveness, transparency, and accountability.”

The participants in Monday’s hearing will be:

·         Former Senators Raymond Lesniak and Joe Kyrillos, the chief architects of the incentive programs;

·         EDA CEO Tim Sullivan;

·         Former EDA Board Chair Larry Downes;

·         A Business Panel with Thomas Bracken, NJ Chamber of Commerce; Andrew Musick, NJBIA;Christina Renna, SJ Chamber of Commerce, and Tony Russo, CIANJ; and,

·         A Construction Panel with AJ Sabbath, NJ Building Trades, and Mike Travistino, Association Construction Contractors.

In addition to Senators Smith and Pennacchio, the committee members are Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Senator Dawn Addiego, Senator Joseph Lagana, Senator Anthony R. Bucco and Senator Declan J. O’Scanlon.

The committee will issue a report of its findings and recommend legislation addressing the state’s economic development policies.

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