Wisniewski Bill Strengthening Oversight & Transparency of TTF Spending Gets Final Legislative OK

November 18, 2013

Wisniewski Bill Strengthening Legislative Oversight & Transparency of TTF Spending in Response to Increased Christie Borrowing Gets Final Legislative OK

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski sponsored to increase the reporting requirements of the state’s Financial Policy Review Board as it concerns the state Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) was approved 26-11 a Senate session on Monday, giving it final legislative approval.

“The administration’s actions regarding transportation funding have made it stunningly apparent that we are in desperate need of the oversight that this legislation would provide,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities chairman. “The TTF is not the governor’s personal piggy bank to do with as he pleases, and this oversight legislation would ensure it is protected.”
Wisniewski’s legislation 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.

On a quarterly basis, detailed information concerning:

The TTF Authority’s capital spending;
The NJ Transit Corporation’s capital lease financing program;
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s capital spending on projects included in the state Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Annual Transportation Capital Program;
The NJ Turnpike Authority’s capital spending and any contractual payments made by the Turnpike Authority to the state or the authority;
South Jersey Transportation Authority’s capital spending and any contractual payments made to the state or the authority by the South Jersey Transportation Authority
The receipt and expenditure of federal funds included in DOT’s Annual Transportation Capital Program;
The use of monies from the state’s General Fund as projected in the DOT’s Annual Transportation Capital Program; and
Any other information that the Financial Policy Review Board deems relevant in providing a financial overview and evaluation of the DOT’s Annual Transportation Capital Program.

These annual and quarterly reports would provide the Legislature with the Financial Policy Review Board’s assessment of:

Current and anticipated ability of the TTF Authority to fund the DOT’s Annual Transportation Capital Program;
The use of federal capital funds spent on preventative maintenance;
The ability of the state to make current and future debt service payments and other expenditures; and
Whether there is a need to limit bonded indebtedness.

Finally, the measure would require the Financial Policy Review Board, with assistance from the DOT, to create a public website on which the reports would be posted.
Wisniewski’s bill is nearly identical to legislation (A-2288) that the governor conditionally vetoed on May 10, 2012. Less than two weeks later, the Christie administration proposed borrowing an additional $260 million against the TTF.
The bill will now go to the Governor for further consideration.