Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Corruption and waste safe for another day

"The legislation introduced has been watered down to the point of being useless." Or so says Senator Diane Allen, Republican of Edgewater Park, about a bill pending in the New Jersey Senate that was supposed to bar dual officeholding (i.e., a state senator cannot hold another elected position such as mayor), establish a state comptroller to review government contracts and budgets, and implement the property tax caps and credits the Democrats have been touting as "reform."

Well, the ban on dual officeholding is out "was removed in the face of political opposition late last week." There are currently 18 lawmakers (both Republicans and Democrats) that hold local or county elected positions. I'm betting its the Democrats members of that group of 18 that successfully go the ban removed from the bill. There is still hope. Senate President Richard J. Codey, Democrat of West Orange, and Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, Democrat of Camden, both said they expect to bar dual officeholding in the future. We aren't going to hold our breath though.

As for the comptroller, well that isn't out. But it is being watered down.
The comptroller plan now includes language preventing the office from auditing developers' agreements with municipalities. Other changes would eliminate automatic audits of government entities that spend $100 million or more and require the comptroller's office to first review existing local government audits before starting its own investigations.

But some think that's not good enough, including Senator Barbara Buono, Democrat of Metuchen, who has removed herself as a sponsor. "Recalling that the Willingboro school district required a $10 million bailout during the last budget because of poor management, Buono said existing audits aren't doing enough."

We agree with Senator Allen and Senator Buono. The comptroller needs more teeth.

Don't worry though . . . the 20% Property Tax Credits -- the Democrats so-called "property tax reform" -- are going untouched. Once again, rebates and credits are not reform. Does anyone else understand that?

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