A bill to be voted on by the Assembly was to have proposed a new tax-incentive program to businesses in Atlantic City, but due to concerns raised by the governor, the incentives have been removed from the legislation, officials said.
The stripped-down bill, which is expected to be voted on Monday, is now a shadow of the original legislation. It includes provisions such as allowing employees of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority to retain their seniority once the agency is merged with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and other adjustments to the casino deregulation bill, which passed in 2011.
State Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, said he proposed the tax incentives to encourage nongambling businesses to invest in the city.
“You do it to attract and stimulate investment,” Whelan said.
But Gov. Chris Christie’s office balked at the program, saying the governor opposed the addition of tax incentives to the bill, Whelan said. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment on the proposal.
Assemblyman John Amodeo, R-Atlantic, one of the bill’s sponsors, said he did not believe the incentive program would be effective, particularly because businesses would be required to make or acquire a capital investment of $20 million or more. That’s too high of a threshold to meet for most businesses, Amodeo said.
Businesses already can qualify for other tax-incentive programs through the state Economic Development Authority, such as the $24 million in tax reimbursements approved for Caesars Entertainment for a proposed conference center by Harrah’s Resort.
“I don’t know if there’s a need,” Amodeo said of the incentive program.
Whelan said he was asked by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber to propose the incentives. Joe Kelly, the chamber’s president, said the group has consistently lobbied for incentives, though it sought a lower investment threshold than what was put forward by Whelan.
Kelly said he did not fault Christie for opposing the program.
“Certainly the governor has been a strong business advocate,” Kelly said. “We absolutely acknowledge that.”
The bill also includes a recalculation of how casinos contribute to a $30 million assessment that goes to annually fund the Atlantic City Alliance, the casino industry’s marketing arm.
Rather than assessing casinos based on the gross revenue generated in the preceding fiscal year, the assessment would be based on gross revenue generated during the prior quarter, the bill states. Casinos that participate in the alliance also would no longer be limited to those that contribute a minimum of $1 billion to the industry.
Contact Hoa Nguyen: