TRENTON, N.J. – Democrats passed a $7.7 billion budget Monday, but evidently had no idea what was in it after it was made public only two hours before the vote. It turns out that there is language in the bill that would allow the privatization of parks, which seems particularly for a billionaire golf course owner who has been interested in expanded his club in parts of Liberty State Park.
Asm. Hal Wirths says indifference to good governance and being thoughtful stewards of the public should be why Democrats are upset.
“This is what happens when a bill isn’t able to be reviewed by the public,” said Wirths (R-Sussex), the Assembly Republican budget officer. “There have been numerous occasions where a bill was thrown on the agenda at the last minute and all committee members had to do was vote yes and repeat their talking points. I am sure the majority got the bill before anybody else. Too bad they didn’t care to read it. They wouldn’t have to show anger for casting a yes vote.”
Democrats have expressed discontent over the budget language. Hudson County legislators, who voted yes for the budget, are pushing a bill that would protect Liberty State Park from privatization despite unknowingly casting a vote that would allow otherwise. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said the language was “sneaky” and “backdoor,” but Assembly Democrats say the Senate added the language.
“Nobody even knows who really put the language in there. It is a complete mess and there seems to be zero accountability,” continued Wirths. “This is some Nancy Pelosi baloney where nobody is supposed to know what is in the bill until it becomes law and special interests win the day over the interests of the people legislators are supposed to represent. The majority should be ashamed at how they do business. It’s all a crock. If we are going to do this job, let’s do it right. Let’s see if they have the courage to hold their own party accountable.”