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Buono To Seek Subpoena Power For ‘Race To The Top’ Investigation

“Asking seniors and the disabled to pay thousands of dollars in higher property taxes and prescription costs while providing a huge windfall to the extremely wealthy is simply unconscionable,” said Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex. “Today we renew our promise to seniors and the disabled that their quality of life is our priority.”

Says Step Necessary Given State’s ‘Woefully Insufficient’ OPRA Response, Lack of Response from Key Players to Committee’s Invitation to Testify

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono, chairwoman of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee, today said she will offer a resolution during Monday’s Senate voting session to grant the committee subpoena power so it can receive the documents and testimony necessary to conduct a thorough review of the issues leading up to the state’s failed Race to the Top application.

Majority Leader Buono released the following statement:

“On Monday, I will ask the Senate to take the extraordinary, but not unprecedented, step of granting the Legislative Oversight Committee subpoena power so we can conduct a meaningful hearing next week. This action should come as no surprise given the administration’s disturbing pattern of rejecting requests for information and denying the Legislature an opportunity to properly investigate the circumstances surrounding a failed attempt to secure approximately $400 million in federal Race to the Top funding.

“Despite a nine-day delay the Department of Education was granted to respond to my request for information, the committee received a woefully inadequate response. Key people who were at the heart of this process have either declined the committee’s invitation to testify or have simply not responded. We have extended a good faith effort to learn about what went wrong. We will not be thwarted in fulfilling our responsibility to better position our state to take advantage of federal funding opportunities.

“We have been left with no choice but to seek to use the Legislature’s subpoena power to compel the handover of vital documents and correspondence and require the attendance of key individuals.

“The Legislature holds the primary constitutional responsibility for ensuring every child receives a good education. We also have an obligation to maintain the system of checks and balances that ensures the integrity of state government. This resolution does nothing more than allow our coordinate and co-equal branch of government to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.

“This process is not about assigning blame, but assuming responsibility. This is not about harping on one mistake, but correcting a process that broke down multiple times. Unless we have an ability to see how the entire Race to the Top process unfolded, we cannot achieve those goals.”