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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Governor's Office)

Murphy declines to say whether legislators should begin moving financial disclosure reform

Plan to update lawmakers’ disclosures stalled for roughly 15 months

By Nikita Biryukov, April 12 2021 2:29 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy declined to say whether lawmakers should accelerate a long-stalled plan to reform annual financial disclosures filed by state legislators Monday.

“Nothing new, from my perspectives, on the financial disclosures other than I think more transparency is better than less transparency as a general matter,” he said. “I don’t have a comment specifically on that.”

Roughly 15 months ago, Senate President Steve Sweeney said he would move to alter disclosures filed by members of both chambers to include a greater number of brackets.

The current disclosures include only four brackets — those for reporting income of less than $10,000, of between $10,001 and $24,999.99, of between $25,000 and $49,999.99 and of $50,000 or more. Those brackets mean a legislator reporting income in the top bracket could be earning $50,000 or millions, and there’s no way for the public to know.

As part of an ethics reform package introduced last February, just weeks before the state reported its first case of COVID-19, Murphy proposed legislators adopt more stringent State Ethics Commission disclosures filed by some members of the administration.

Legislators are unlikely to adopt those stricter disclosures, and it’s not likely disclosures for last year’s income, due to be filed by May 15, will see any changes.

Sweeney last year said he intended to pass the reforms early in 2020 to allow legislators time to familiarize themselves with the new rules.

Murphy, at the least, indicated he’d be supportive of changes to make lawmakers’ disclosures more effective.

“I’m on the side: the more folks know, the better we all are off,” he said.

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