The New Jersey General Assembly yesterday approved a bill requiring the estimated costs of tax credits and exemptions to be included in annual budget proposals submitted by governors. The bill, A. 2139, passed 47 to 28, with one abstention.

The Senate was set to vote on the measure yesterday evening.

Proponents of A. 2139 believe quantifying tax breaks and reductions would offer the Legislature more insight into the full extent of tax exemptions and benefits.

New Jersey is one of nine states that does not require a publicly released tax expenditure report, according to Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, sponsor of the measure.

Critics of the bill say the Democratic-led Legislature is pushing for the initiative as Gov.-elect Chris Christie, a Republican, prepares to take office on Jan. 19.

“While all tax expenditures are initially designed to promote the public good through the encouragement of certain economic activities or the reduction of tax liabilities in special circumstances, the passing of time may change the effect of tax expenditures to something other than their original purposes,” the bill reads. “The Legislature cannot begin to adequately assess the public policy impacts of tax expenditures, and the accomplishment of the legislative intent of tax expenditures, until sufficient empirical data exists as to the financial effects of the tax expenditures.”

GOP members question the incoming administration’s ability to conduct the additional analysis prior to when Christie is required to submit a budget proposal on March 16. Critics also say the initiative could hurt business growth and job creation in the state.

The Christie camp declined to comment on the bill.

The lower chamber also passed A. 4360 requiring future administrations to include New Jersey’s pension and other post-employment benefit liabilities in its annual debt report.

Other bills that passed in the General Assembly include a measure to create a commission to review the state’s independent authorities and a bill that would allow the Capital City Redevelopment Corp. to issue debt. Oversight of the CCRC’s funds would also shift from the Treasury to the corporation and there would be two fewer gubernatorial appointees on CCRC’s board.

Monday is the last day the Senate could vote on the three bills before the end of the legislative session.

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