Bilking New Jersey’s Taxpayers
State taxpayers foot the cost of “Christmas tree” projects that otherwise would have been paid though local property taxes or never undertaken if someone else wasn’t picking up the tab.
The Star-Ledger reported last year that millions of dollars in grants, including some for homeland security, were awarded overwhelmingly to towns and programs in districts represented by Democrats, who obviously control the Legislature and Governor's Office.
One Star-ledger analysis showed nearly 90 percent of certain state grants during the previous three years went to districts controlled by Democrats - “even after legislators claimed they had removed politics from the process.” It would be interesting to see a complete analysis of the budget to determine were all funds controlled by the state (state and federal funds) are spent. A dollars to zip code study should help to clarify the inequities in the state’s budget, but that’s not going to happen.
However, someone is trying to make a difference. Two weeks ago a Cranford lawyer, David Robinson, threatened to sue the Governor in a effort to halt the "Christmas tree" grants until a more open process is set up for distributing them. Yesterday, Robinson field a lawsuit claiming the grants are "little more than legislative slush funds to which only a powerful few have access. These funds are subject to no public scrutiny or oversight."
“While claiming to seek budget cuts and calling for higher taxes because the state is broke, Governor Corzine appears to have sided with the politicians who treat the state's coffers as a piggy bank for the politically connected pursuing parochial pet projects," Robinson said.In an apparent reaction to the lawsuit, a spokesman for Corzine said that the Governor earlier this week directed a freeze be placed on the remaining funds set aside for the grants and a review of the program be conducted. In light of the state’s fiscal crisis one would think all non-essential spending would be halted, who needs another study to determine the obvious.
Meanwhile, Senator Wayne Bryant (D-Lawnside) chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, refused to comment on the controversy. A Gloucester County Times article about the Robinson suit adds this tidbit of information about Bryant. “In all, he, his wife, two brothers, son and his sister-in-law collectively hold 10 public sector jobs earning a total of $700,000” plus benefits.
As we pointed out the other day, Governor Corzine’s 2007 budget calls for a 51.78% increase for “other grants-in-aid”, amounting to a $411.87 million increase over fiscal year 2006. It’s business as usual in Trenton and the only “hard choice” Governor Corzine has made is how best to disguise the bilking of taxpayers.