For a governor who likes to trumpet his record on the transparency of his administration, Gov. Chris Christie has a funny way of showing it. And so do his GOP enablers in the Statehouse.
This week, feckless Republican lawmakers once again could not bring themselves to override a Christie veto. Since Christie took office in 2010, the Legislature has sought to override his vetoes 57 times. It has failed to do so 57 times, mostly because of bloc voting by Republicans, many of whom initially supported the bills Christie vetoed.
At issue this time was a bill that would have required the state's annual debt report to include 10-year projections of the affordability of the state's obligations. The report would estimate the revenues available over the next 10 years to repay debt and future borrowing needs and compare projected costs against revenues and residents' personal income.
It should be noted that 11 states now require a debt affordability analysis, and mere months ago, the New Jersey Legislature thought it was a great idea. The Assembly passed the bill 77-0 in March, and the Senate approved it 40-0 in June.
Among the governor's objections to the bill was that it would not be proper to let the public in on projections that would be "speculative." Of course, projections a decade hence are speculative. They are educated guesses at best. But that doesn't mean such projections are without value or that New Jerseyans shouldn't be able to see those projections.
The Christie administration made a last-ditch stand against the proposal Monday by warning Assembly Republicans the plan could create problems with Securities and Exchange Commission rules. Oddly enough, this objection was not raised during the six months the bill was considered. Christie didn't even mention this when he first vetoed the bill three weeks ago.
Christie, sad to say, has a chokehold on the legislators in his party. It is disturbing that so many Republicans simply fold when Christie says "no" to a bill that they all agreed should become law.
And it is likely to happen again soon. The Assembly voted 72-1 Monday on a bill requiring the state to annually post complete property tax data. The measure was prompted after the Department of Community Affairs deleted from its website the average Homestead Rebate and average net property tax columns for 2008 through 2012.
Already the administration is balking at the bill, saying the DCA already has "considerable property tax data" on its web page and "regularly shares the agency's most complete data with those who request it."
Taxpayers should not have to "request" information that they previously could find on a website, particularly when the reason is to simply spare the governor the embarrassment of presiding over net property tax increases.
Before this bill is put on the governor's desk, Republican lawmakers should vote themselves some backbone. Problem is, Christie would probably veto that, too.