Assembly Republican Press Release -
The state’s budget needs to be more transparent. That was the message sent by the Assembly Budget Committee today as it approved a pair of bills sponsored by Assemblyman Jay Webber providing taxpayers and legislators with more details about state finances.
“Amid all the dark budget news, taxpayers deserve the ability to examine how the state is spending their money,” said Webber (R-Morris). “Constituents tell me all the time that they want to know what happens after they send their money to Trenton.”
Webber’s Transparency in Government Act (A1552) requires a user-friendly, online tool that tracks tax collections, government spending, employee compensation, and state debt so taxpayers can see first-hand how their money is spent.
The bill originated in 2006 in response to the McGreevey administration awarding homeland security and municipal aid grants largely on a political basis with little to no public representation.
On his first day in office, Gov. Chris Christie issued an executive order that later established the site www.YourMoney.nj.gov, which is managed by the Treasury Department.
“Although the Christie administration has taken steps online toward greater transparency, the public deserves more comprehensive data that will remain accessible regardless of who is governor,” explained Webber. “Passing this bi-partisan legislation will make that a permanent part of state government.”
The second bill (A2225) requires that the governor’s annual budget message to the Legislature identify any of the governor’s recommendations for new or additional sources of revenue that may each raise $1 million, and an estimate of funds anticipated to be available for appropriation during the fiscal year. If a governor is looking to take more of the taxpayers money, he or she is going to have to be upfront about it.
“These tools will enable the public – and even legislators – to examine how and when government spends taxpayer money,” said Webber. “It will also mean that public officials will increasingly know that their spending and fiscal decisions are open to public scrutiny.”
“These reforms will shine a light on wasteful spending and the crushing burden of state debt,” concluded Webber. “The next and more important step, however, is actually to stop over taxing and overspending in the first place, and I urge the Legislature to join me going forward in combating those abuses of the taxpayer.”