Senator Says Proposal Provides Relief to Struggling Families
TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, the Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, issued the following statement today after the Senate approved a Democratic budget proposal which restores funding for programs affecting the working poor and struggling families in New Jersey:
“I support the Democratic-sponsored budget proposal primarily because at the end of the day, we’re restoring relief for hard-hit New Jerseyans, struggling families, jobless residents and senior citizens. The Democratic budget alternative would restore our State’s priorities, and would help those who have the least to afford the high cost of living in the Garden State.
“However, in addition to restoring our priorities, we have to ensure that we have a higher level of accountability that follows spending on those priorities, to make sure that the money we’re spending goes to the people who need it, and not to waste and fraud within the system.
“This session, I’ve sponsored a number of bills to increase accountability and transparency in local spending, because I truly believe that the effectiveness of programs for those in need is largely dependent on the accountability of local officials who administer those programs. We cannot blindly shovel money into a hole, and hope it reaches the folks it’s intended to help. We need to make sure that programs are running effectively, efficiently, and with as little waste, fraud and abuse as possible.
“I have concerns about the Urban Enterprise Zone program, and I want to make sure that the funds we spend to support UEZs creates the sort of sustained, stable economic growth which makes a difference in people lives living within the UEZs.
“I have concerns that when audits are conducted, there’s little to no follow-through to make sure the problems are addressed. If we don’t have safeguards against waste and abuse, the money we spend today to help people will never make it to the people in need.
“Today’s spending proposal is a good start to getting New Jersey’s priorities back in order. I hope the Governor will seriously consider this budget document, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve the accountability and transparency of government spending at all levels of government in New Jersey.”