Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills Thursday that he said will keep New Jersey on a path to greater economic success for the state — and plenty of new jobs for residents.
The bills, passed among a flurry of activity last Friday (all while the budget was being passed as well), pertained to strengthening the offshore wind industry, the film industry — and the ASPIRE tax incentive plan.
Murphy, speaking among dozens of elected officials, union leaders and business representatives at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal, said each of the three bills will have a significant impact on the state, but he said their true value comes when combined as a whole.
“I do not want folks to lose sight of the bigger picture: There is a cumulative effect here, where one plus one equals three, meaning the sum is greater than each of the parts,” he said.
“Together, these bills put New Jersey on the forefront of the 21st-century economy and create a steady pipeline of good jobs and opportunities well into the future. But, perhaps more importantly, they help build an economy that works for all of us, that is at the heart of our nation’s promise, where everyone has the chance to achieve their dreams through hard work.”
A look at the bills:
Offshore wind (A5651/S4019)
The bill allows the first offshore wind project in the state, Ocean Wind 1, to take greater advantage of federal tax credits and incentives.
South Jersey salute
Gov. Phil Murphy gave praise to former South Jersey elected leaders: Steve Sweeney (the former state Senate president) and John Burzichelli (a former Assemblyman). Both were early supporters of offshore wind.
“Let me be unequivocal about these two guys: They championed offshore wind from the very beginning, including long before I got here,” Murphy said. “They saw early on the jobs potential for this district in Gloucester County, in South Jersey more broadly. And they helped make sure that we kept this plant open.
“Throughout this journey, they have been invaluable partners, and I cannot thank them enough. And I can say unequivocally, without Steve and John’s support and help, we would not be here today without that.”
Murphy said passage of the bill was “absolutely critical” to moving the offshore wind industry forward as it helps address costs associated with the pandemic and resulting supply-chain disruptions. Murphy stressed the economic importance of building the industry in the state. He said the bill will help spur an additional $200 million of private sector investment.
“I cannot emphasize this enough,” he said. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity right now, to bring tens of thousands of overwhelmingly union jobs and billions of dollars of investment to our state with offshore wind.”
Film industry (A5393/S3748)
The bill makes it easier to bring film and movie production to the state, a long-held desire of the Murphy administration.
Murphy said the film industry has grown approximately tenfold (from $67 million to $650 million) since he took office, accounting for 8,500 jobs. All of this, Murphy said, comes on an investment of $100 million.
Murphy feels this bill will help grow those numbers — and the state’s reputation.
“Those numbers that I mentioned from last year are going to look better and better once the major studios finished building out their production facilities in Monmouth, Essex, Hudson and Middlesex counties, at a minimum,” he said. “And, thanks to the bill that we’re signing today, New Jersey will be among the top film-producing states in the nation, and maybe even the world.”
Murphy said the bill makes critical changes to the ASPIRE program, which brings new commercial and housing developments to underresourced communities by helping to finance projects that otherwise would not be economically feasible for developers.
“We’ve already seen this program deliver wins across the state, and this bill will help get even more projects across the finish line by addressing some of the challenges that emerged after we introduced the program, like inflation, supply chain disruptions,” he said.
“So, not only will this bill create jobs, it will help bring more affordable housing to where it is needed, particularly to our largest urban areas.”
The bills drew applause from the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, which has long pushed the governor to do more for business and the economy.
“The signing of these economic growth bills sends a message to the rest of the country that New Jersey’s leaders are supportive of burgeoning industries, such as offshore wind and film/digital media, and will work with companies seeking to create jobs and facilities benefitting our economy and residents,” chamber head Tom Bracken said.
“In addition, the modification to the EDA’s ASPIRE program will expand eligibility to commercial and residential developers looking to build key projects such as transit villages, affordable housing units or commercial buildings in areas in need. This will encourage more transformative real estate investments in New Jersey that will benefit residents and workers living in our towns and cities.”
Murphy certainly agreed.
“We are committed to creating more pathways to opportunity — and that is exactly what these bills do,” he said.