TRENTON, N.J. – An initiative spearheaded by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka that received funding in the state budget hosted an event honoring a former poet laureate identified as anti-Semitic by the Anti-Defamation League, and featured two speakers also identified as anti-Semitic by the ADL.
Assemblywoman Aura Dunn says the incident highlights the need for more budget transparency, especially considering Democrats added nearly $1.5 billion in pork in this year’s budget and there aren’t any state laws requiring beneficiaries to disclose how taxpayer’s money will be used.
“There shouldn’t be secrecy when it comes to such generous gifts. This isn’t Santa’s workshop, it’s the Statehouse,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “Transparency brings accountability. Accountability brings trust in our government. Unfortunately, taxpayers are funding things blindly, and that’s how you get a taxpayer-funded platform for anti-Semites siding with Hamas.”
The mayor’s Brick City Peace Collective hosted an event on Saturday, Oct. 7 celebrating Baraka’s late-father, Amiri Baraka, who was stripped of his state poet laureate status and required to return a $10,000 award for a poem that expressed anti-Semitic views. The event occurred on the same day Hamas terrorists launched their brutal attack on Israel.
“The timing couldn’t be worse, but the fact that hate has a platform in any case should be categorically condemned,” said Dunn. “Taxpayers work hard for their money and deserve to have access to how it is used. Not only to spotlight bad actors, but to show the good that many organizations do could spur donations and reduce the need for state aid.”
Although the collective’s $5 million appropriation this year, following a $3 million appropriation last year, was part of Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget, special interest funding has ballooned under Democrats since Murphy was elected in 2018.
Pork spending has increased by roughly 1400% since 2019, when it was $89 million.
“The governor proposes pork spending too,” said Dunn. “Taxpayers deserve more transparency. This latest anti-Semitic incident makes that loud and clear.”
Dunn proposed a bill last year that requires each budget resolution be published by June 1, the budget is required to be passed before July 1. The resolutions would be voted on in the Senate and Assembly budget committees. The public resolutions would include the exact appropriation or language change and the connection to the legislator that includes an explanation of why they believe the appropriation is necessary.