New Jersey's 13th Legislative District

Senator Declan O'Scanlon

Senator Declan O'Scanlon

O’Scanlon Calls for JBOC to ‘Get Serious’; Slams Committee for Lack of Oversight

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Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) criticized the Joint Budget Oversight Committee (JBOC) for its inaction over the last six months and for allowing inflation to consume more than $500 million of taxpayer money. O’Scanlon’s full statement is below:

Sen. Declan O’Scanlon criticized the JBOC for its inaction over the last six months and for allowing inflation to consume more than $500 million of taxpayer money. (©iStock)

“JBOC actions today with respect to the $6.2 billion federal block grant received 19 months ago in May 2021 is around the margins—allocating $2 million to advertise the Anchor Program…and simply shuffling around about a dozen previous allocations to new departments to administer. It’s all frittering around the edges while we should be putting this money to good use helping businesses still struggling and wisely investing the money in ways it would provide relief for our beleaguered taxpayers. The fact that we haven’t had the two JBOC meetings required by law over the last six months, and the insulting lack of any substantive action on this agenda, is a real slap in the face to those businesses and taxpayers.

“Meanwhile, $1.5 billion of the grant has sat unallocated for any purpose whatsoever. And, about $5.2 billion of the $6.2 billion received in May 2021 (including the money that is unallocated) remains in state accounts to this day—moving at a snails pace and having earned 1% investment returns with inflation having eaten up more than 10% of the spending power. For those not good at math, that means the buying power of this $5.2 billion sitting around in state accounts has wasted away to the tune of more than $500 million. It’s taxpayer money, and we just set a half billion dollars on fire. Where is the sense of urgency we should be feeling to put the money to its intended good use?!?

“Republicans have proposed putting funding towards open/transparent/fair local government capital grant programs to address flooding, parks, and infrastructure projects. We have proposed using funds in lieu of tax and toll increases taking effect on New Year’s Day. And, I have been seeking help for a nonprofit social service provider that cares for people who are experiencing life-changing spinal cord injuries. Our proposals have been ignored. But if you won’t allocate money to local infrastructure, tax relief for people suffering from inflation, or to help people who truly need help—use it on something else.

“Governor Murphy slow-walking money given to us courtesy of federal taxpayers is a joke and wasteful.

“Some of this federal money is being spent without any legislative approval or even a legislative discussion. The Governor—who has been allocated $500 million to spend in his sole discretion—has abused his authority by: buying the Governor and Lieutenant Governor new SUVs; giving criminals leaving jail $4,000 checks; and building permanent bureaucracies with money that will eventually run out. It’s absurd.

“The Legislature has joined in these abuses by using this money for pork in the appropriations act. Examples of this pork include ice rinks and even shoveling $20-70 million to clients of lawmakers to build sports facilities that include cricket and rugby fields, as well as tennis courts. I can only share the obscene $20-70 million range because the purpose of a $20 million pork grant of federal money was disclosed in response to an OPRA request and we know that’s what it’s being used for. However, the purposes of related grants have never been disclosed to anyone in the public despite Senate rules requiring such disclosure. But, it sure seems like those grants are likely going to the same, single, excessive project. And, that’s just the tip of the opaque pork iceberg.

“This process of spending federal money is a secretive joke. It blows huge chunks of money on frivolous things, and perhaps even worse…leaves billions of dollars languishing in idle state accounts to be ravished by inflation so more than a half billion dollars of buying power just disappears.

“JBOC needs to get serious. Oversight has been non-existent.

“People’s money is being wasted and the majority members of JBOC are complicit. Today’s meeting isn’t oversight at all—it’s part of the problem.”

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