Karcher Bill To Increase Public Review Of Budget Documents Receives Final Legislative Approval

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would make fiscal information on legislation available to lawmakers and the public in a more timely manner was approved today by the Senate by a vote of 37-0, receiving final legislative approval.

“It’s become a sad Trenton tradition, in which expenditures of State funds are often voted on without full knowledge of the impact of the bill,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “All too often, the frantic pace of the New Jersey Legislature is at odds with the thorough scrutiny needed to safeguard public funds. This bill will ensure more time to review bills with a fiscal impact, allowing for greater openness and transparency in government.”

The bill, S-2676, would make various budgetary reforms, including changing the review time for a sponsor of a fiscal note from 10 days to three, making it available to the public quicker. The bill would update the law to ensure that fiscal notes are available to the members of the Legislature and for general review before a bill is considered by a committee or in either Legislative House. The bill also would allow the Legislative Budget and Finance Officer to independently call for a fiscal note on legislation, and to receive such fiscal review documents “by a date consistent with legislative consideration,” rather than imposed deadlines which draw out the fiscal certification process.

“The Legislature should never be asked to vote on a bill which spends public dollars without proper review,” said Senator Karcher. “We were elected to be responsible stewards of the public trust, not rubber stamps for someone else’s spending priorities. With approval of this bill into law, we will be better equipped to protect the public interest and give expenditures the full review that they deserve.”

The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.

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