Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Mendham), a member of the Assembly Budget committee, announced today that she plans to introduce legislation that would require budget resolutions be published publicly by June 1, well before the June 30 deadline for passing a final budget.
“Timely disclosure of budget documents is intended to allow for ample examination and instill public confidence in the process,” Dunn said in a statement. “Unfortunately, legislative leaders have failed to follow the rules, so it is time we spell them out clearly in law.”
Dunn, who was outspoken about the lack of transparency in this year’s budget process, noted that requests for changes to the budget still have not been released nearly a month after the budget was approved.
Legislative rules require any changes to the proposed budget and their authors be published 14 days prior to the budget’s final consideration in committee. However, Dunn said Democrats have instead interpreted that to mean that the resolutions only need to be filed with the two budget committees, rather being released to minority party legislators and the general public.
This year, observers were in the dark on the budget until late in the evening on June 27, less than two days before the final floor vote on June 29. In the time between Gov. Phil Murphy’s original budget address and the release of the final document, Assembly Republicans said the budget grew by $2 billion, with a large number of projects added at individual legislators’ requests.
“There shouldn’t be secrecy when it comes to such generous gifts,” Dunn said. “This isn’t Santa’s workshop, it’s the statehouse. As I said from the Assembly floor, transparency brings accountability, accountability brings trust in our government.”