Coming soon to NJ: A simple report on how tax dollars are spent?
Do you really understand how your tax dollars are being spent in Trenton?
Legislation, A-4090, could be passed in the coming weeks that calls for the state auditor to publish an annual plan language summary of New Jersey’s current financial condition, including the latest information on state debt and other long-term liabilities.
Ralph Albert Thomas, the CEO and executive director of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, strongly supports the measure.
“We think it’s important that there be a presentation of this type so that people really do have an understanding of what is taking place here in the state of New Jersey from a financial perspective,” he said.
A better insight
He said having this kind of report “would allow lawmakers, the media and the public to be more aware of the state’s true financial condition, at the end of the day that’s what’s important.
He said having a plain English document on the state’s finances will also give us “comparative information of what other states are doing and how we can perhaps model after them or even do a better job.”
He pointed out that Jersey’s overall financial health is already covered in great detail in what is called the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, but the problem is most people don’t know this even exists, it’s more than 400 pages long and not easily understood, so hardly anybody ever reads it.
Lots of confusion
Thomas said most state residents understand New Jersey is carrying significant debt, but they probably don’t understand how quickly that debt continues to mount, and what kind of negative impact it will have on the state in the coming years.
“The goal for us is we do a better job of educating members of the legislature, the citizens of New Jersey about the state of the state, if you will, from a financial perspective,” he said.
Assembly representatives Roy Freiman, D-Somerset, Eliana Pintor Marin, D-Essex, and Rob Karabinchak, D-Middlesex, are the primary sponsors of the measure.
It would include per capita comparative statistics from Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states.
The same facts and figures and other important details about the state’s finances would also have to be presented by the state auditor in person each year during public hearings on the budget.
The measure would also compel the auditor to analyze the accuracy of annual state revenue projections and detail any structural budget imbalances, along with the regular review of the state’s recession preparedness.
How much does the average NJ home cost? Median prices by county
KEEP READING: Scroll to see what the big headlines were the year you were born
25 costliest hurricanes of all time