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NEW JERSEY

New Jersey

State Recovery Act Website: http://www.nj.gov/recovery/

New Jersey's state Recovery Act website scored 20 out of 100 possible points (ranking a tied 28th) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus. The state earned a lower than average score by neglecting to report a geographic breakdown of stimulus allocations and associate those allocations with any kind of indicator of economic distress.  The state also fails to map or describe specific projects, disclose the cost of approved projects, or name contract awardees.  Contractor information: none.

New Jersey scored more points-25 out of 100 (ranking a tied 38th)-on its disclosure of information specifically about highway projects funded by the Recovery Act.  The state describes highway projects and their costs on its Department of Transportation page.  Contractor information: none.

For detailed scoring information, see the New Jersey appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

Coordination & Oversight

The Governor's Office created the New Jersey Economic Assistance and Recovery Plan, focusing on short and long-term proposals for strengthening the state's economy, though there is no individual plan document.

The New Jersey Recovery Accountability Task Force is co-chaired by the Governor's Chief of Staff Edward J. McBride, a lawyer with a long history in New Jersey state politics, and State Comptroller A. Matthew Boxer, a former federal prosecutor. Eight other current and former officials are on this task force.

According to a July report by the GAO, New Jersey has added specific codes in its accounting system to track Recovery Act funds. The state Office of the Inspector General is planning to provide additional training on internal controls for agencies receiving Recovery Act funding. The state’s Recovery Accountability Task Force and the Governor’s Office are also working with agencies to resolve weaknesses identified through the single audits. Additionally, the oversight community has taken some steps in planning oversight of programs receiving Recovery Act funds. For example, the State Auditor is conducting audits of the departments administering the weatherization and Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant programs. New Jersey’s Office of the State Comptroller is reviewing all Workforce Investment Act programs.


Assistant state auditor Stephen Eells has raised concerns about transparency and accountability risks in the reporting of federal stimulus money. In a letter to Gov. Jon S. Corzine and legislative leaders, he said there were risks in "a number" of the 14 municipalities and eight housing authorities audited by his office. Bells' office is part of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services. Controls over preparing financial statements "are absent or ineffective in preventing or detecting material misstatements in the preparation of these statements," Eells wrote, adding that records used to prepare the statements did not provide reliable information. The audits reviewed four programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Community Development Block Grant, Homelessness/Rapid Re-housing Grant, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, and Public Housing Capital Fund Grant. A total of $220.7 million has been allocated to New Jersey municipalities, counties and housing authorities for the four programs.

Policy Debates

U.S. Representative Frank LoBiondo, whose congressional district includes Atlantic City, and executives from New Jersey's casino and tourism industry, have criticized ARRA provisions that prohibit casinos from applying for stimulus funds (for infrastructure improvements or any other purpose), and forbid other entities receiving stimulus funds from spending them at casino properties (Rep. LoBiondo points out that local government agencies sometimes rent casino spaces to hold job fairs). Critics of these prohibitions claim that they will further endanger jobs in an industry suffering from the recession.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign (for the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Region) has written to New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine saying that it would be a violation of federal law to pay for expansions of the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway with subsidized Build America Bonds, which were authorized by ARRA, because neither project has undergone a federal environmental review.

A July GAO report states that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded about $891 million to New Jersey, or about 67 percent of its total SFSF allocation of $1.3 billion. According to officials from the New Jersey Office of Management and Budget, the state has expended $162 million, as of June 30, 2009. New Jersey is using these funds to restore state aid to school districts and fill shortfalls in the state budget.

 

Last updated on: 14 October, 2009

Quick Facts

Population:
8,682,661

Median Household Income:
$67,035

Unemployment Rate:
9.7%

Poverty Rate:
8.6%

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$6.2 billion

Watchdog Groups

New Jersey Policy Perspective

New Jersey PIRG (Public Interest Research Group)

Resources

New Jersey Policy Perspective has produced a working paper detailing estimated ARRA funds for the state, but the paper is not yet available on the organization's website.

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