Lesniak wants to stop Christie’s ‘blank check’

State Senator Raymond Lesniak is moving to stop legislation that he says would give a $400 million blank check to Gov. Chris Christie.

The measure, S3076, which is sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, would appropriate $400 million to the state Department of Transportation from the Transportation Trust Fund Authority, but instead of designating projects for bridge and road repairs, it would vest total authority for spending in Christie.

It is intended that the money will be spent within 100 days following enactment of the legislation.

Lesniak? published a tweet on March 10 saying, “On Mon the #NJSenate will vote to give Gov. Christie a $400m blank check from the gas tax increase you are paying.”

At the same time, the lawmaker posted a video on Facebook urging residents to speak out against the measure.

Christie has also been pushing for a $300 million overhaul of the New Jersey State House but Lesniak, a veteran Democratic lawmaker, is threatening to file a lawsuit to prevent the project from moving forward.

Lesniak says lawmakers should have more say about how taxpayer money is allocated, particularly since Christie has abused his discretion in distributing Hurricane Sandy money and other state funds, seemingly for political purposes.

“The tax reform plan that we approved last year has made it possible for the state to pay for many critical transportation projects in communities across New Jersey,” said Senator Steve Oroho, a Republican who co-sponsored the bill with Sweeney. “Our new legislation builds on that effort by having the state augment its share of funding for local road and bridge repairs that would otherwise have been borne by residents through increased property taxes.”

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