Good Jobs First, a nonprofit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, D.C., released a report this week evaluating the 50 states on the transparency of economic development subsidies.

New Jersey received a grade of D for its online disclosure (or lack thereof) of the names of companies receiving tax breaks, cash grants and other subsidies.

The states that ranked highest were Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Ohio. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have no online disclosure for such subsidies, the report found.

New Jersey's Business Employment Incentive Program, a cash grant to new or expanding businesses, received a score of 74 out of 100 and the Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant, tax credits and sales tax exemptions for companies considering relocating out of state, received a score of 59/100.

The Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant Program, Research and Development Tax Credits and Urban Enterprise Zone Program, which cost the state $438.9 million in fiscal year 2008, more than any of the other programs, received scores of zero.

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Wednesday advanced legislation to provide businesses located in an Urban Enterprise Zone with a sales tax exemption for purchases of items and equipment for their businesses.]

"There really is no reason New Jersey shouldn't wank among the most transparent states when it comes to subsidies for business," said Deb Howlett, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective. "Taxpayers deserve no less than full disclosure."

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