MORRIS COUNTY — Three weeks after the enactment of the fiscal year 2023 budget, requests for changes to the appropriations bill made by lawmakers and the executive have still not been made public. Congresswoman Aura Dunn, a member of the House Budget Committee, proposes ending the lack of transparency by drafting legislation requiring budget resolutions to be made public by June 1 each year.
“Good governance is a shared experience and the complete lack of transparency in this year’s budget process should outrage every resident. This rightly erodes public confidence in our system of government. The people of New Jersey deserve honest and open public servants,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “Taxpayers need to know where their money is going, how it is being spent and who requested the funding.”
According to the rules, all proposed changes to the budget, as well as the author of each change, must be published at least 14 days before the final consideration of the budget bill. The Democratic majority interpreted the language differently, arguing that budget resolutions should only be filed with budget committees within that time frame.
“The timely release of budget documents is intended to allow for thorough scrutiny and to inspire public confidence in the process. Unfortunately, legislative leaders haven’t followed the rules, so now is the time to spell them out clearly in law,” Dunn said.
Under Dunn’s bill, additions to the budget would be posted on the legislature’s website no later than June 1 each year — well ahead of the June 30 deadline to pass the annual appropriation act.
Between Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed budget presented in March and the final $50.6 billion plan presented moments before the respective budget committees approved it on June 25, it has grown by nearly $2 billion. for political interests. The additions, known as Christmas tree items in Trenton, fund pet projects in individual legislator districts.
“There should be no secrets when it comes to such generous donations. It’s not Santa’s workshop, it’s the Statehouse,” Dunn added. “As I have said since the Assembly, transparency brings accountability, accountability brings trust in our government.”