- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to slash New Jersey’s 7 percent sales tax on boats sailed through the Legislature on Thursday and is headed to his desk.

The Democrat-led Assembly voted 64-0 in favor of the proposal. The measure passed the Senate in October.

The measure calls for reducing the sales tax to 3.5 percent and comes after Christie vetoed an initial bill that capped the tax at $20,000, benefiting those who bought boats costing more than $285,000 a year.

The Legislature’s initial bill would also have waived the tax on boats used in the state for fewer than 90 days per year. Christie proposed changing the period to 30 days to ensure the use tax is enforceable.

Lawmakers say the legislation will be a boon to boat mechanics, manufacturers and marina operators who suffer from slumping sales lost to other states.

The tax break could cost the state from $8 million to $12.3 million in the first few years, according to legislative estimates. Under the vetoed bill, the cost was estimated at between $1 million and $4 million.

Christie has said his proposal was better because it would also help middle-class residents who buy smaller vessels.

New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think tank, criticized the tax cut.

“New Jersey’s leaders have decided that the folks who really need help are those buying pleasure boats,” said Gordon MacInnes, the group’s president.

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