Sandy oversight bill vetoed

TRENTON – Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver said Thursday that the governor vetoed Legislation that would have ensured the transparent and efficient administration of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding.

Oliver, reacting to the veto of A61, said in a release that “The purpose of this measure was to ensure that the money earmarked for Hurricane Sandy recovery in the state would be spent wisely, and that the public would be well informed about the process throughout.

“I understand the governor has made certain directives to make sure this goal is met, but this measure would have made it a statutory requirement.

Residents devastated by this storm deserve the peace of mind that the billions in federal funds slated for the recovery will be administered efficiently and appropriately. This bill would have done that.

“Now all they have is a stated goal from the governor that can be broken or rescinded without the power of law. With his veto, the governor has weakened oversight and transparency of Hurricane Sandy relief funding.”

The bill, which passed unanimously in both the Senate and Assembly, would have imposed oversight upon Hurricane Sandy recovery funding by establishing a website. The site would have required quarterly reports on recovery funding and expedited reports for administrative problems in funding to enable prompt responses.

In part, the bill was a reaction to the way in which debris removal company AshBritt was hired. According to some, New Jersey “piggybacked’’ on an existing pact AshBritt had with Connecticut to clean up after Sandy.

Critics claim this bypassed accepted bidding practices. The Christie administration defended the practice as necessary and acceptable considering the amount of work needed and the timeframe involved.

Another Sandy oversight bill, A60, had been signed by the governor in March.  It allows for deployment of monitors for rebuilding projects.

In his veto, Gov. Chris Christie said the bill would be redundant.

“This bill seeks to impose oversight upon Superstorm Sandy recovery funds even though such oversight is already in place.

“While I thank the sponsors for their efforts, and for sharing in my commitment to the transparent and efficient administration of Sandy recovery funding, this bill would produce unnecessary redundancies and waste government resources,” he said in his veto message.

He referenced establishing the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding to help bring the state back from Sandy’s devastation.

In addition, he mentioned the executive order he signed in February mandating comprehensive oversight of Sandy funds.