Measure Would Create Committee to Develop Public Finance Site, Publicize Central Accounting Data
Legislation Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Troy Singleton, Paul Moriarty and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to make data regarding public finances in New Jersey more accessible to everyday residents gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday.
"New Jersey's taxpayers deserve an easy way to understand how their money is being spent," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "A website that makes information on state finances clear and simple to find will further transparency in the state."
The bill (A-1552), to be known as the "Transparency in Government Act," would require the state Treasury Department to establish a searchable state public finance website outlining state finances since Fiscal Year 2000.
"The fiscal condition of New Jersey benefits when everyone has the opportunity to view and evaluate how funds are being handled," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "The state ought to use the internet as a resource to get that information to as many people as possible."
"A single, searchable website would be a one-stop shop for concerned citizens who want to keep the state accountable," said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). "New Jersey always should be looking for ways to improve its residents' ability to be informed and advocate for change as they see fit."
"Public finance is all about the people's money. As such, they have a right to know where it goes," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Being able to go online and see exactly what taxpayer dollars are spent on should be standard for New Jersey in the 21st century."
The bill also would establish a 13-member Public Finance Transparency Committee, which would advise, consult and coordinate with the treasurer and the state's chief technology officer regarding the scope, content and format of the public finance website. The committee would include: the treasurer; the chief technology officer; the director of the Division of Budget and Accounting; two cabinet-level officers, to be appointed by the governor; four members of the public, with two appointed by the governor, one appointed by the Senate president and one appointed by the Assembly speaker; and four legislators, with one each appointed by the Senate president, the Senate minority leader, the Assembly speaker and the Assembly minority leader.
The measure, which gained unanimous Assembly approval, now awaits Senate consideration.