BY TOM HESTER SR.
An effort in the Democratic-controlled Assembly to override Gov. Chris Christie's veto of legislation to provide New Jerseyans a tax credit for buying a house failed on Thursday when Republicans opted not to provide the votes needed for passage.
The override bid fell 12 votes of the 54 needed for a successful override. With 75 of the 80 Assembly members present, the final vote was 42 to 32 with 1 abstention. The lower house is controlled 47 to 33 by the Democrats.
Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden), the prime sponsor, said the bill is designed to spark New Jersey's slumping housing industry, provide as many as 18,100 jobs and increase tax revenue for state and local governments by as much as $773.7 million over a three-year period.Republican legislators argued the financially-struggling state government does not have the $33.3 million they believe is necessary to begin funding a tax break.
Greenwald said the homebuyer tax credit would not cost the state any money to start and would net, if successful, the nearly $1 billion in tax revenue.
Under the bill (A-1678) homebuyers of new or previously-owned homes would receive a tax credit of up to $15,000 or 5 percent of the home purchase. The total credits available from the state would be $100 million over a three-year period. Seventy-five percent of the credit would go for purchase of new houses and 25 percent would go for the purchase of previously-owned homes.
The Assembly and Senate initially approved the bill overwhelmingly on June 10, but Christie vetoed it on July 23, saying there was no money in the 2010-11 state budget to finance the tax credit.
Greenwald said a tax credit would provide construction and supplier jobs needed to help spark New Jersey's economy.
Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris) said, "If you reality want to ge the building industry going, get the bankers to give loans. Until the banks are willing to give loans and appraisers are ready to do their jobs willingly, and we get the state to ease regulations on builders, you are not going to see housing. It's not going to change for awhile.
"This bill is going nowhere,'' DeCroce added. "I'm surprised it was put on the board. Everybody knows it's not going to go anywhere.''
After the vote, referring to the Assembly minority's support of Christie's veto, Greenwald said, "It's clear that the Republican legislators have become nothing more than robotic automatrons programmed by the governor.
Today's vote shows the Republicans have lost all independence and cannot think for themselves," Greenwald said. "That's irresponsible, especially toward their constituents desperate for a job and a better economy. The Republicans thought the homebuyer tax credit was a good idea when they joined Democrats in approving it 67-8. What changed? The economy certainly hasn't improved under Gov. Christie's watch. The only change was the directive from the governor's office not to support creating jobs and improving the economy for working class residents. This veto and the failure to support its override shows an alarming misunderstanding by the Republicans on how our economy works."