The meeting of the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee started with the kind of theatrics only a Trenton hearing can — activists disrupting testimony and dropping off boxes of alleged emails between the state’s Economic Development Authority and the law firm Parker McCay, the agency accused of helping to write parts of the tax incentive program known as Grow NJ to benefit companies tied to South Jersey power boss George Norcross.
With a June 30 deadline around the corner, lawmakers have little choice but to take testimony on a bill to extend the program for seven months, giving the Legislature more time to come up with a plan.
However, Gov. Phil Murphy is poised to let the program lapse when it expires, even with nothing in its place, pointing to a state comptroller report and the findings of his task force that showing some companies falsified documents to game the system and increase their incentive awards.
With hesitation, the committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee passed the bill. It now goes to the Senate, but its fate is all but certain, according to a spokesperson for the governor.
“The governor has always been inclined to work with the Legislature on a new incentives package. This did not have to come down to an eleventh hour vote to extend flawed legislation. During his first budget speech, in March 2018, the Governor asked the Legislature not to wait until the last minute [ …],” the statement read. ” […] If an extension of the current program is passed without the necessary reforms, the Governor will have no choice but to veto it.”