TRENTON – After slashing $139 million in aid for New Jersey cities from the state’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget, Gov. Chris Christie signaled a willingness to restore the funding today. However, the money will come with a catch – the state Department of Community Affairs would oversee the aid program.
“When I took office, I pledged to change the culture of Trenton and end the practice of unchecked waste of taxpayer dollars. Legislative Democrats’ efforts to eliminate oversight and accountability for Transitional Aid through the Department of Community Affairs was a misguided effort that would have returned us to the days of Trenton as a free-flowing spigot for taxpayer dollars where no one asked questions,” said Christie.
“I stand ready to work with the leadership in the Legislature on Transitional Aid funds, but only under the oversight of a properly-resourced DCA. I will sign into law the bill I am proposing today that restores funding in the Transitional Aid program and that provides the resources for DCA to continue its vital work overseeing and enforcing accountability in the program, and serving as a partner with urban cities and distressed municipalities.”
“Whenever the Legislature wants to come back and pass this bill they have my commitment that I will sign it as long as we have the appropriate oversight that is included in this bill,” Christie said.
Democrats indicated a willingness to work with the governor, but disputed his assertions about lack of oversight authority.
“Assembly leadership is of course willing to review the governor’s proposal, but we also will want to see the money go directly to cities, not into building a new layer of bureaucracy that obliterates local autonomy,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic.)
“Despite the governor’s rhetoric, the DCA has always retained proper oversight authority. Language providing for oversight remained untouched in the budget. In fact, I’ve made clear that fiscal accountability is always a priority, though these cities that are under constant fiscal stress need a level of independence to decide how best to serve residents.”
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!