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N.J. Assembly OKs bills designed to create jobs

TRENTON - The Assembly approved a slew of job-creation bills during its final voting session of the year.

TRENTON - The Assembly approved a slew of job-creation bills during its final voting session of the year.

Republicans, the minority in both chambers, asked Democrats to consider working with them before pushing through the bills.

"This bill has been vetoed by the governor already," said Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R., Union). "Work with the governor instead of posting bills that have already been vetoed."

That's what Democrats are doing, said Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D., Camden). Considering the state's unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, the fourth-highest in the country, Greenwald said, "we may need to take a fresh look at some of these bills."

Gov. Christie, a Republican, typically refuses to talk about legislation until he signs or vetoes it. But at a news conference last month, Christie said he would prefer a tax cut to "more programs." He also has said that he would not approve spending bills that are not part of budget negotiations. The jobs package would cost about $20 million, according to Democratic Assembly leaders.

One bill heading to the governor's desk after final approval Monday is the so-called angel investor tax credit. It would offer credits of up to $50,000 to technology start-ups.

Christie vetoed the bill in 2011 despite bipartisan support.

On Monday, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R., Morris) said such tax credits are unnecessary and unfair.

"We already have these investments being made in New Jersey every year," he said.

Webber argued that it was wrong to "subsidize" new high-tech businesses and not offer similar tax breaks to a new tire or lumber company, for example. He said he supported Christie's desire to offer property owners an income tax credit, an idea the Democrats have put on ice until the state's revenues strengthen.

A bill to help veterans find jobs passed unanimously in the Assembly on Monday and headed to Christie.

The Assembly also approved a revamped version of a previously vetoed bill that would offer a stipend to unemployed workers receiving on-the-job training. Democrats halved its cost to $1.5 million.

Other bills approved include measures to offer tax breaks to businesses that hire unemployed workers, tuition assistance to those studying a field with workforce shortages, and tax incentives for businesses that pay interns. Those bills await Senate approval.