Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee Tony Bucco, Kevin O’Toole, Steve Oroho, and Phil Haines have filed a lawsuit against Governor Jon Corzine. The Governor is violating the State’s open public records law by refusing to provide documents that show what budgeted funds Corzine has frozen to address an at least $1.2 billion revenue drop and to pay for more than $100 million in spending bills he signed over the past month. State law appropriately grants the Governor the power to impound budgeted funds, and Corzine has claimed to be using the power, but refuses to say to what extent or to name the funds that will be impacted.
“Red flags go up when the Governor claims one day that he is freezing funds and using the impoundment power, but for the next month refuses to say by how much or identify the funds being impacted,” said Kean. “We need assurances that he is being aggressive enough so we can avoid tax increases that make New Jersey more unaffordable.”
“It would take ten minutes to copy a list of funds Corzine has put in reserve and share it with the public, but this is a governor who has brought his secretive Wall Street ways to Trenton and thinks everyone should just live with it,” said Bucco.
“Republicans have offered specific, common sense budget cuts in the past and the public deserves to know whether the Governor is finally accepting them or if he is once again targeting property tax relief and aid to suburbs,” said O’Toole.
“Corzine rejected previous calls by Republicans to scale back a grossly mismanaged and corrupt grant program for a handful of local governments and we made other constructive suggestions to make New Jersey more affordable,” said Oroho. Oroho has pressed for reforming the program and scaling it back to 2002 funding levels, but the Governor has refused to accept the constructive suggestion and has targeted aid to suburbs instead.
“We want to work with the Governor to solve our State’s budget problems, but it’s next to impossible to do that when he refuses to provide basic information the public has a right to see,” said Haines. “We can agree to disagree on policy matters, but there should be no disagreement that the Governor is required to explain how he is using his power.”
The complaint, brief in support of the complaint, and draft order to show cause requiring the Governor to answer the complaint are attached.