TRENTON – Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto and Assembly Education Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. on Friday announced they have introduced legislation to establish legislative oversight of private money being used to pay for state services.
The Star-Ledger on Thursday, for instance, reported that the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has given the state a $430,000 education grant, as long as Gov. Chris Christie remains in office.
“This really is quite simple – the taxpayers have a right to know who is providing funding for state services and personnel and what stipulations might be involved,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “Grants can be a good thing and a welcome help to taxpayers, but transparency is always a good thing, so requiring disclosure is the proper course. Disclosure would allow the public to take a close look at a funding source and let it decide if it is appropriate, especially those that seem political in nature.”
“Secret, private funding sources can cause many problems,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Paying for services with private sources of money can lead to a lack of government transparency, an appearance of possible conflicts of interest and undue influence. Transparency is something everyone should support, most especially when it comes to donated or private funds for state government. Let the taxpayers know so they can decide whether the funding and what it’s paying for is proper.”
The bill (A-3617) matches language proposed by the Democratic Legislature in this fiscal year’s state budget to establish oversight protections for donated or private funds.
Gov. Chris Christie, though, used his line-item veto authority to delete the language.
The bill establishes budgetary oversight authority over state government expenditures of private donations and expenditures for advising and consulting services. The bill requires agency and department heads to provide notice and an accounting of such spending practices to the Joint Budget Oversight Committee.
The bill also requires private money used to pay for the discharge of the duties or responsibilities of an agency or department employee be reported to the Speaker of the General Assembly and the Senate President. The notice shall identify the person by name and title, the services provided by the person and the private source of funding from which the person was paid.
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