Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce is pushing a bill to abolish the Schools Development Authority, an agency that earlier this week fired 30 employees whose were hired in violation of state ethics guidelines.
“The SDA has had a long and troubled history largely because it has been able to operate with little oversight as a legally-establish state authority,” DeCroce said. “The staffing scandal is just the latest problem demonstrating that we need to abolish the agency and bring its operations within the state administration, where the governor and legislature can have more direct control of matters.”
The SDA’s recent troubles stem from the tenure of now-former CEO Lizette Delgado-Polanco, who was also vice chair of the Democratic State Committee.
Reporting by the Bergen Record and investigations of the SDA’s hiring practices found Delgado-Polanco fired longtime authority staffers and replaced them with individuals to whom she was personally or politically connected.
Delgado-Polanco hired 27 of the 30 fired earlier this week.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, with whom Gov. Phil Murphy has repeatedly feuded, has also called for the agency to be eliminated. He wants the SDA rolled into the Economic Development Authority, which is facing its own share of controversy over tax incentives.
DeCroce’s bill would instead give the SDA’s responsibilities to the Division of Management and Construction within the Treasury Department.
“Moving the SDA to the Division of Property Management & Construction is the right step because it is critical that we ensure the services provided by the SDA are offered in a professional, cost effective and transparent manner,” DeCroce said in a May letter to Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman John Burzichelli.