Home>Highlight>Democratic leaders in both chambers commit to releasing budget resolutions in coming days

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, left, with Senate President Steve Sweeney. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Democratic leaders in both chambers commit to releasing budget resolutions in coming days

Filings show which lawmakers requested funding for pet projects

By Nikita Biryukov, June 24 2021 7:49 pm

Top Democrats in both chambers committed to disclosing budget resolutions filed by members seeking spending on pet projects in the coming days.

“I think I got full control. I’ll release them tomorrow,” Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said during a press gaggle at Thursday’s voting session.

Those resolutions, also known as budget change proposals, are filed by legislators and the governor’s office and seek, as their name would suggest, modifications to spending or language in the annual appropriations bill.

The documents, which rules in both chambers require be filed two weeks before the final vote on a given budget bill, show which lawmaker or lawmakers requested a given change. They also require legislators disclose any potential conflicts.

The forms were adopted under Gov. Jon Corzine after federal authorities charged then-State Senate Budget Chairman Wayne Bryant for steering money to a university in South Jersey where he held a no-show job.

Assembly leaders also committed to releasing the forms, though their timeline for doing so is hazier.

“We’ll commit to the commencing timeline that usually follows,” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) said at a press conference Thursday.

“Whatever timeline it is, whether it’s a week or two, three,” Assembly Budget Committee Chairwoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Newark) said.

Sweeney contested reporting around the disclosure rules for budget resolutions, saying they only required the resolutions be entered within 14 days of the final budget vote.

The rules do not attach a timeline to the disclosure, but the legislative intent is clearly against the Senate president.

A contemporary press release sent out by then-Senate President Dick Codey (D-Roseland) when the rules around the resolutions were adopted said “all proposed changes to the budget, as well as the author of each change, will be published at least 14 days prior to consideration of the appropriations bill by the Senate.”

Budget resolutions for the current fiscal year were not posted until months after lawmakers adopted a nine-month budget in September.

This year’s appropriations bill includes hundreds of millions of dollars for “Christmas Tree” items, including $300,000 for a little league field in Somerset County’s Franklin Township, $15 million for vacant property demolition to the Camden County Improvement Authority and $250,000 for park improvements in Chester Township, among numerous others.

It’s not yet clear who requested any of those items.

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