The big news this week is the Revel story - the approval of the $261 million state tax reimbursement and the fact that Revel is getting back on track. (Sure, the bill-signing was terrific news, too - but it was expected.)
The Economic Redevelopment and Growth tax reimbursement makes perfect sense. And there is no taxpayer risk. It gives Revel back a portion of the sales and other taxes it generates over a 20-year period in order to fill financing gaps and do desperately needed Inlet improvements. It's money the state would never collect anyway if Revel was not completed and running. It doesn't take a dime from state government now. The state is still expected to reap more than $3 billion in new taxes from Revel over that 20-year period, even after the reimbursement. And if anyone doubted that the money was needed in order to fill a financing gap that wouldn't be otherwise filled, all they need to do is look at the idle cranes. The project has been stalled over financing for more than a year.
Additionally, the state will get a share of the profits over the long haul that could make up for the $261 million reimbursement, if Revel is successful.
It's a winner. But the strange bedfellows of the left and right - not to mention Atlantic City's Local 54, which would be cheering this jobs-creator if it had any sense - once again want to torpedo it.
The EDA approval was only hours old when New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think tank, had an indignant press release out: "The state may not have money to invest in preschools and public education, but that isn't stopping the Christie administration from gambling on a new luxury casino," NJPP huffed.
Puh-leeze. What's the gamble? The state isn't putting up a nickle. And if Revel doesn't get up and running, the state won't have that $3 billion in new tax money. If that's a gamble, please let me in on it.
Then, more predictably, arch-conservative Steve Lonegan weighed in to the Star -Ledger: "The Revel casino hit the jackpot here at government expense."
Same comments apply.
And now, Local 54 president Bob McDevitt says the union plans to sue to overturn the state Economic Development Authority's approval of the tax reimbursement.
It's hard to see how the lawsuit would be successful. A 2009 state law gives the state the authority to do precisely what it did in order to launch projects precisely like the Revel project.
It's been more than a year since McDevitt and Lonegan threw a monkey wrench into the project through misinformation and demagoguery. Let's hope it doesn't happen again. Too much is at stake - for Atlantic City and for New Jersey.