Lesniak/Buono Bill To Expand Voter Approval Of Debt Passes Senate Budget Panel

TRENTON – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved legislation today sponsored by Senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Barbara Buono that would expand State voter approval requirements for issuing public debt.

“Unchecked state borrowing is what has gotten us into our financial crisis in the first place,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “We’ve relied far too much on budget gimmicks and pushed off our financial obligations to future generations. Loopholes that allow State agencies to borrow without voter approval need to be closed if we are going to move forward.”

The Senators’ resolution, SCR-39, would place a question on this November’s ballot that would amend the State Constitution to prohibit the State Legislature from enacting any law that authorizes any State agency or independent authority to borrow money that will be paid back with an annual appropriation unless that borrowing is approved by the voters.

“This is an essential step in restoring New Jersey’s long-term financial health,” added Senator Buono, D-Middlesex and Chair of the Committee. “It’s time to cut up the credit cards and borrow only for those projects that have broad public support.”

Under the resolution, voter approval would not be required if the debt is undertaken by an independent non-State agency and repaid by a third party or if the source of revenue used to repay the debt is required to be appropriated by the State Constitution.

The resolution passed by a vote of 13-0 and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.