Legislation Would Require Governor to Release Expense Account Details Annually
Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton and Vince Mazzeo on Wednesday declared their intent to introduce legislation that would make public details related to the governor’s use of certain taxpayer funds allotted for undisclosed purposes.
The bill, which the sponsors plan to introduce Thursday, would require the governor to file a written report with the State Ethics Commission detailing each expenditure made from a budget item described as “an allowance of funds not otherwise appropriated and used for official receptions on behalf of the state, the operation of an official residence, for other expenses or any similar allowance.” The report would be available as a public record and would be posted on the State Ethics Commission website.
A $95,000 allowance available to Gov. Chris Christie annually – a sum he receives in addition to his $175,000 annual salary – is not subject to reporting under current law, the sponsors noted. All other portions of the state budget are public.
“This proposal further heightens the fiscal transparency requirements that the citizens of our state demand of its public officials,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “By mandating that the details of this allowance be part of the public record, we will enable the people of New Jersey to hold this governor and all future governors accountable.”
The report required under the bill would be due on July 15 of each year and would be required to include details on spending from the funds allocated during the immediately preceding fiscal year ending June 30.
In addition to the report, the governor would be required to submit copies of receipts for each item or service purchased, along with: (1) the name and mailing address of the person, business or organization receiving payment; and (2) a brief description of the item or service.
“New Jersey taxpayers have every right to know where their hard-earned money goes,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Any governor who makes a responsible and appropriate use of this expense account should have no objection to complying with what’s required under this bill.”