Lawmakers Refuse to Let Urban Enterprise Zones Die in Program’s 5 Charter Cities

It’s already been several months since Gov. Chris Christie refused to extend a special sales-tax break that businesses in five New Jersey cities had been permitted to offer their customers since the 1980s as a way to stimulate economic activity. But with businesses in many other communities also in danger of losing the tax break over the next several years, some lawmakers are refusing to let the issue go.

The future of the state’s Urban Enterprise Zone program — and its key 50 percent sales-tax break — was one of the topics that lawmakers wanted to discuss yesterday with the head of the state Department of Community Affairs during an appearance before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee in Trenton.

Yesterday’s hearing came as lawmakers have begun the process of interviewing individual department heads about their spending requests as the budget committee members continue to look more closely at the $35.5 billion spending plan that Christie has proposed for the 2018 fiscal year. The hearings are typically the only chance that lawmakers get to directly question Christie’s cabinet members, and the lawmakers usually take advantage of them to bring up other topics that reach well beyond each department’s spending requests, as they did yesterday.

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