TRENTON – Senator Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, a champion for ethics reforms in the State Senate, issued the following statement today regarding Governor Corzine’s budget proposal, issued to the Legislature at a joint session today in the Statehouse:
“Governor Corzine has offered some interesting initiatives to begin to cut waste, fraud and abuse from some of the most notoriously abused State programs. While I think he has gotten off to a good start, I would like to see more safeguards in place in the final budget to ensure that State funds are spent on the public interest, not private interests, and that we pass a budget in June that does not hold middle-class taxpayers in this State accountable for the mistakes of the past.
“There is no doubt that the Governor has proposed some very painful cuts, especially in regards to municipal and educational aid. As we ask everyone across the board to do more with less, we need to do everything in our power to ensure the efficiency of State expenditures, and cut out the corruption tax known as pay-to-play, which increases the cost of contracts awarded by government.
“The Governor proposed that the State make a ‘down payment on reform,’ and I think that has to be a major priority in these budget negotiations. We need to spend the funds on the reform infrastructure, such as staffing for our State’s watchdog agencies, to make real top to bottom reforms, and craft a government that is a lean entity that puts the people of New Jersey before any sort of political favoritism.
“While I look forward to working with the Governor to ensure that New Jersey taxpayers get the most for their money, we need to demand ethics audits of every department before we sign over taxpayer money. Unless we push for a higher ethical standard, we will continue coming to the table every year, still plagued by the waste, fraud and abuse that push the cost of State government higher and increase the cost of living in New Jersey.”