Democratic Lawmakers Hope to Compromise with Christie On Urban Enterprise Zones

Dozens of communities across New Jersey are facing the loss over the next decade of a special Urban Enterprise Zone designation thanks to Gov. Chris Christie’s recent rejection of a measure seeking to extend the economic-development program for another 10 years. The phase out of the decades-old UEZs -- and their treasured state sales-tax break -- will start at the beginning of 2017 in Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield, and Trenton.

But rather than mount an effort to override Christie’s veto -- something that has yet to happen since the Republican governor took office in early 2010 -- the lawmakers who sought the 10-year extension are instead offering to compromise with the governor. They’re working to send him a new piece of legislation that seeks a temporary two-year extension of the special designation that would apply to just the five communities in danger of losing their UEZ status at the end of the year.

Christie has already shown a willingness to work with Democratic lawmakers this year on several key issues, including transportation funding and the takeover of Atlantic City’s struggling government, but it’s unclear right now whether he’s open to striking a deal on the UEZ issue. A conditional veto of the legislation seeking the 10-year extension that he issued last month said the tax incentive was never meant to be provided on a permanent basis. He also said the state could use the billions of dollars in tax revenue that’s now being sacrificed to the UEZ program.

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