TRENTON – The Senate Labor Committee released legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would ensure that no public services are privatized without scrutiny and not unless true cost savings – those not based on increased charges, reduced services to the public, or lowered workforce standards — are demonstrated.
The bill, S-1350, would require sustained oversight and public disclosure regarding privatization contracts in order to provide accountability to the taxpayers, and would prohibit any agency of the State or political subdivision from entering into a contract of $250,000 or more to purchase from private entities services previously performed by agency employees, except under certain circumstances.
“Privatizing government services often leads to reduced services, cost increases, and job losses that disproportionately impact workers who are already economically vulnerable,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “If our public agencies are going to do business with private industry, then we need to be smart about it by putting safeguards in place to protect against privatization that is not in the public interest and that will end up costing taxpayers more in the long run.”
Under the bill, the State Auditor would be required to conduct post-audits of contracts subject to the bill, evaluating whether the projected cost savings were obtained without raising charges, cutting services, or lowering workforce standards. If any individual, agency or contractor is found to be in noncompliance they could be subject to penalties or sanctions.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 3-2.