"Following a report that found New Jersey to have the worst fiscal health of any state in the nation, Senator Michael Testa offered solutions to stop reckless spending and get the Garden State back on the right track.
A recent report issued by Truth in Accounting gave New Jersey's financial condition an "F" grade due to excessive spending and the pension and healthcare debt that must be paid in the future. This translates to an individual taxpayer burden of nearly $59,000, the highest total for any state in the nation. The organization noted that the money that is needed by New Jersey to pay outstanding bills has increased by more than $12.5 billion.
"As the cost of Governor Murphy's budgets have skyrocketed in recent years, so too has the list of pork projects receiving payments," said Testa (R-1). "What we're doing now is only digging a deeper hole. Under Murphy, New Jersey has implemented one irresponsible spending plan after another. All this does is make an already unaffordable state even more unaffordable. We must chart a new fiscal course because New Jersey residents deserve better.
The FY2023 spending spree included a $300 million handout to Rutgers University in the form of an "additional appropriation." It includes $100 million to renovate the basketball facility and to start work on an indoor football practice facility.
Other high-end items include: $7 million for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC); $5 million for the Cherry Blossom Center in Branch Brook; $4.6 million for a park in North Bergen; $4 million for Union County's Clark Reservoir; $3.6 million for the visiting Lambert Castle Visitors Center in Patterson; and $3 million for the Brick City Peace Collective in Newark.
"Some of these payouts may be for worthy causes," added Testa. "However, these awards should be transparent, competitive and merit based, but what we've seen out of Trenton is secretive, arbitrary and unfair."
Testa emphasized that these payments are arranged in back rooms, far removed from the scrutiny of New Jersey's comprehensive budget process.
"The legislature is locked out of it and New Jersey residents, who ultimately end up paying the bill, often have no idea where the money is going or what it is being used for," Testa said.
To push back against this reckless spending, Testa introduced the following bills in December:
S-3388 Redirects a $300 million special line item for undisclosed capital projects at Rutgers (believed to include $100 million Rutgers sports facilities) awarded without an open or fair application process to a grant program run by the Commission on Higher Education that would be open to all public and private higher education institutions as well as vocational schools. Funding allocations would be based on merit with a regional Statewide balance.
S-3386 Would redirect approximately $356 million in special local government line items to named recipients awarded without an open or fair application process to a grant program run by the Commissioner of DCA that would be open to all local governments. Funding allocations would be based on merit with a regional Statewide balance.
S-3387 Would redirect approximately $22 million of eight line-items awarded to arts and cultural organizations without an open or fair application process to a grant program run by the Secretary of State that would be open to all arts and cultural organizations. Funding allocation would be based on merit with a regional Statewide balance."
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