TRENTON – On Monday, Senate committees will consider a number of good government reform initiatives to cut down on waste, give voice to the voiceless, and address the issue of vacancy in the Governor’s Office.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will vote on two bills designed to increase oversight of State government. The first bill, S-541, sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale, would reestablish the Office of the Public Advocate to ensure that government works on behalf of the people of the State.
“For two decades prior to being abolished by the Whitman Administration, the public advocate served the people of this State exceptionally, and demanded that government be an institution for the people, not the politicians,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “By restoring this office to its former glory, we would be going a long way towards restoring the public’s faith in its servants.”
The second bill, S-2195, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny, Jr. and Senator John Adler, D-Camden, would establish the Office of the Inspector General to root out waste and mismanagement and ensure that government operations are cost-efficient.
“In these past three budget cycles, the need for lean government has become readily apparent as we’ve been forced time and time again to make painful cuts of service to pay for years of excesses that are finally catching up to us,” said Senator Kenny, D-Hudson. “An Inspector General would keep us honest about the cost of government, and would help us uncover savings to make the painful budget decisions much less painful.”
In the Senate State Government Committee, a bill to establish the post of Lieutenant Governor, sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner, will be up for a vote. Since former Governor Jim McGreevey resigned last November, triggering Senate President Richard J. Codey to hold both the positions of Senate President and Acting Governor, the call to reform New Jersey’s antiquated system of succession has been louder than ever from government reform watchdogs.
“In the last four years, we’ve had more acting governors than elected governors,” said Senator Turner, referring also to the situation in 2001, when former Governor Whitman resigned to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prompting then-Senate President Donald DiFrancesco to serve as Acting Governor. “While this bill in no way reflects on the performances of our State’s Acting Governors, we need a better way. A Lieutenant Governor, elected by a majority of all the voters of the State, would clear up the succession mess and ensure that too much power is not wielded by one person.”
The Senate will also consider:
S-1759 and SCR-113, sponsored by Senator Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, to set up a program to reduce diesel emissions and air pollution in New Jersey and to make funds available for air pollution control grants. The bills will be considered by the Senate Environment Committee, chaired by Senator Smith.
S-2149, sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, D-Union, Middlesex and Somerset, which would provide that the State Athletic Control Board chairmanship would be a part-time post.
S-2334, sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden, D-Gloucester and Camden, which would establish the “Social Services Student Loan Redemption Program” to encourage college graduates to get involved in the social services industry. That bill is up before the Budget Committee.
SR-91, sponsored by Senators Vitale and Nicholas J. Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen which would urge the Turnpike Authority to explore the possibility of motorists using their EZ-Pass tags to pay for gas at the service areas on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. That bill is pending before the Senate Transportation Committee.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SENATE COMMITTEE AGENDAS FOR MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2005
CLICK HERE TO READ SENATOR SMITH’S PREVIEW ON HIS BILLS TO REDUCE DIESEL EMISSIONS IN NEW JERSEY