Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Chris Tully, Lisa Swain, and John Armato to make information available to maximize federal funding was advanced by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee on Monday.
The bill (A-4128) establishes the Office of the Ombudsman for Federal Funds within the Department of Treasury. This office would serve as a resource to enable state agencies to qualify and apply for as well as receive federal funds, and to oversee the activities of state agencies in this regard.
“The creation of this office will help New Jersey take full advantage of federal funding and will allow our state to get the most out of every federal dollar,” said Tully (D-Bergen/Passaic). “By dedicating an ombudsman to relay this information, our residents will not be short-changed as they will be more aware of the resources available to them.”
The ombudsman would be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. He or she must be qualified by training and experience to perform the duties of the office.
“The Office of the Ombudsman would create a specified point of communication between state agencies and municipalities, which will significantly strengthen the relationship between the two,” said Swain (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The ombudsman will work with state agencies to make sure no opportunity for federal funding is missed.”
This measure was inspired by Congress’ “Anti-Moocher Bill,” introduced by U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer and Leonard Lance to help address the disparity in federal spending and taxes in the United States.
“This program will help us to see whether applications for federal funds were submitted appropriately as well as whether federal funds were distributed appropriately in a more organized fashion,” said Armato (D-Atlantic). “Simply put, this bill helps to ensure New Jersey towns are fairly being given the resources they are owed.”