Eager to project unity amid back chatter about a crumbling Democratic caucus, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) and Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees) trained their sights on Gov. Chris Christie Friday after the governor trumpted more than $200 million in potential state agency cost savings identified by his New Jersey Privatization Task Force.
“Well, there he goes again,” said Greenwald in the tag-team release that specifically targeted the task force’s recommendation that drivers pay for their own emissions tests. “It’s becoming clear this governor hasn’t met a fee hike on average New Jerseyans that he couldn’t embrace, and fee is just another three-letter word for tax.”
Oliver went shoulder-to-shoulder with her South Jersey colleague.
“This plan and its tax hikes on average New Jerseyans will require a hard analysis,” said the speaker. “It was bad enough Gov. Christie’s budget included more than $1 billion in tax increases on average New Jerseyans. Now he wants to sting residents with even more fees for services such as car inspections. Where does it stop?”
Christie simultaneously shopped his privatization project as a taxpayer boon.
“In March, I asked the (five-person) Privatization Task Force to develop a strategy that would reduce the size, scope and cost of state government,” he said. “What they have provided is a path for change that will benefit New Jersey’s taxpayers through improvements in the quality of public service programs and services delivered to our citizens without placing further burdens upon the State budget. I look forward to further reviewing these recommendations.”
The governor’s office this morning issued a list of “Department-specific” recommendations made by the Task Force:
· Within the Dept. of Community Affairs, the privatization of Housing & Uniform Construction Code enforcement
· Within the Dept. of Corrections, exploring opportunities to privatize inmate medical health services and correctional facilities’ food services
· Within the Dept. of Environmental Protection, entering into long-term concession agreements for the operation and management of all state parks
· Within the Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development, the outsourcing of boiler and pressure vessel inspections
· Within the Motor Vehicle Commission, the full decentralization of passenger vehicle inspections
· At the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the outsourcing of manual toll collection
· Within the Dept. of Transportation, the use of long-term, performance-based highway maintenance contracts
· Within the Dept. of the Treasury, the outsourcing of worker’s compensation claims processing and all pension, payroll and benefit payment systems