Legislation Assembly Democrats Eric Houghtaling, Joann Downey, Jamel Holley and Elizabeth Muoio sponsored to help ensure that taxpayer dollars are allocated and spent efficiently gained Assembly approval on Thursday.
The bill (A-4164) would require the State Auditor to report annually on unspent state account balances.
“When a unit of government says it needs a certain amount of money but then doesn’t use it, it raises concerns about whether projects and programs are being adequately funded,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “If there are funds idling in a government account, the state ought to examine why that is and perhaps seek more efficient ways to use them in the future.”
Under the bill, the auditor would be required to report to the legislature by Dec. 31 on the ending fund balances of all state agencies for the prior fiscal year. In addition to the amount of unspent funds, the report would include recommendations for addressing the accumulation of funds to avoid waste or fraud and any other information the auditor deems advisable.
“Taxpayers rightfully expect that their money will fund things like education and infrastructure, not just accumulate in a government account,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “An annual report on unspent account balances will foster transparency and help New Jersey use funds more efficiently.”
“Government has a responsibility to manage taxpayer dollars in a way that best promotes the good of the people of New Jersey,” said Holley (D-Union). “With comprehensive data on where funds aren’t being used, the state would be better equipped to achieve that goal.”
“If agencies are leaving money on the table, it could be an indication that programs and services intended to benefit New Jersey residents haven’t been implemented,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Examining money that is not being spent is just as important as scrutinizing the money that is.”
The measure, which the Assembly passed unanimously, now awaits further Senate consideration.