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Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Ciattarelli promises to veto bills not public for 7 days before votes

Republican gubernatorial candidate joins chorus of criticism over opaque budget process

By Nikita Biryukov, June 23 2021 10:13 am

Responding to a wave of criticism against Democratic leaders in Trenton following the breakneck committee passage of a $46.4 billion spending bill that came just minutes after the 281-page legislation became public, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli pledged to veto and bill that sees a vote less than a week after it became public.

“When I am governor, this ends. Today, I am announcing that under a Ciattarelli Administration, I will veto any bill sent to my desk that has not been made available to the public and noticed for consideration at least one week before a committee vote,” he said. “No more backroom deals that disrespect the taxpayers, stifle free press, and embarrass our state. It is far past time to restore transparency and decency to New Jersey’s government.”

On Tuesday, budget committees in both chambers approved legislative Democrats’ spending proposal.

The bill, which dedicates $52.2 billion in total resources, was voted on only 11 minutes after its text was first released to the public. Republican testimony against the opaque process meant the bill wasn’t approved by the Senate Budget Committee for another few minutes.

It passed an 8-3 vote along party lines, with each of the Senate panel’s three Republicans voting no.

The saga has renewed criticism over transparency Trenton Democrats typically face in budget season, when it’s not unusual for lawmakers to vote on extensive — and expensive — spending bills without providing time for public scrutiny.

They also cleared a $115 million supplemental spending bill that included $5 million to increase prizes at the state’s horse racing tracks. That bill was advanced in the Senate committee without any public text.

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