Legislation Assembly Democrats Eric Houghtaling, Joann Downey, Jamel Holley and Elizabeth Muoio sponsored to help ensure that taxpayer dollars are allocated and spent efficiently was signed into law on Monday.
The new law (A-4164) requires the state auditor to report to the legislature 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 law, the auditor must report to the legislature on the ending fund balances of all state agencies for the prior fiscal year. In addition to the amount of unspent funds, the report must 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 will 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 received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature before being signed into law by the governor.