Whether you’re Republican, Democrat or Independent, most people can agree that government should strive to be transparent. Transparency extends past party lines. It should be demanded by the public and practiced by every official.
New Jersey’s 2022 budget process completely shattered any belief in a transparent government in Trenton. We’ve reached an infuriating level of backroom deal making where a few men decided the fate of $46.4 billion in taxpayer dollars with little input from anyone else.
When the Senate Budget Committee sat down to pass the state’s budget, they were given 11 minutes from when the 280-page document was printed to when it hit their desks in order to vote yes or no. Leaders in the Democratic party forced legislators to decide how to spend billions of taxpayer dollars in the time it takes to boil a pot of water.
Democrats on the Budget Committee, like Senator Dawn Addiego, were fine with voting yes on a $46.4 billion spending plan that they never read, which should be alarming to everyone.
Trust in government is at an all time low, and it’s easy to see why. It’s impossible to make an informed decision in that amount of time, and that’s the way the power-hungry men in charge of Trenton want it. When the Governor, Senate President and Assembly Speaker get to play politics in the dark with your money, it allows them to hand out gifts and favors in order to retain their power.
Countless deals were made behind the scenes that provided special interests with billions in “pork item” spending. Those deals could’ve been scrutinized by the entire legislative body and the public if given more time.
Transparency should be bipartisan. It benefits all of New Jersey’s citizens. The budget process we have now needs a spotlight shined on it. Republican governor candidate Jack Ciattarelli has backed a law that would require any bill or resolution to be publicly available for one week before it can get voted on, which would give the public and legislators a chance to scrutinize policy to the fullest extent.
The least we can do is give the public, who are living in the highest-taxed state in America, seven days to learn what their representatives plan to do with their money. We all deserve better. It’s time to fix New Jersey.
Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R) represents New Jersey’s 8th Legislative District. She is also the former sheriff of Burlington County, N.J.