The New Jersey Senate Transportation panel has approved a measure that would strengthen transparency in the state’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) spending.

Flickr User Doug Kerr

The measure is sponsored in the Assembly by Transportation committee chairman John Wisniewski.  Wisniewski’s bill is almost identical to legislation that Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed in May. Less than two weeks later, the Christie administration proposed borrowing an additional $260 million against the TTF. Wisniewski claims that was done so that Christie can fund his income tax cut plan.

Wisniewski claims, “The Governor’s explanation of how he was going to fund his tax cut plan was always a little light in the reality department, but funding that plan by borrowing against the Transportation Trust Fund proves that the governor has become completely unmoored from reality in his dogged pursuit to maintain his national, right-wing credentials.”

The Assemblyman’s bill would grant the state Financial Policy Review Board additional oversight powers.  Specifically, it would require the board to report to the Legislature on an annual basis:  Future debt service schedules of the TTF Authority and the revenue allocated to pay for said debt; and the amount of anticipated TTF pay-as-you-go funding set aside and the actual amount allocated that year.

The bill would also require the Financial Policy Review Board, with assistance from the DOT, to create a public website on which the reports would be posted.

“The administration’s recent actions regarding the TTF have made it stunningly apparent that we are in desperate need of the oversight that this legislation would provide,” says Wisniewski.  “The TTF is not the governor’s personal piggy bank to do with as he pleases, and this oversight legislation would ensure it stays that way.”