Dow: Budget tighter, but department more efficient

TRENTON – Attorney General Paula Dow told the Senate Budget Committee that a “thorough examination” of her department found savings – closing some offices altogether – while finding an “ability to operate with greater efficiency” on Monday afternoon.

The A.G.’s Office examined divisions’ core missions, management, staffing, technology, and other resources before crafting their cost requests for FY12, she said.

“Our department’s proposed budget keeps costs down and at the same time strengthens us in certain ways,” such as by bringing some work in-house and hiring more civilians in order to put more state police troopers back on the streets.

Her $555 million budget reflects a $5 million reduction from FY11’s adjusted spending and a $96 million reduction over last year’s budget.

Even so, it includes funding for the first state police recruit class in two years, a priority of Gov. Chris Christie, she said, which will hit the training center this august – prepping 100 new troopers by next year.

The department also has clearance to hire 50 civilian employees to free up 50 other troopers for the “frontline.”

They’re buying 25 new state vehicles and five helicopters, as well.

She touted the work of the Division of Criminal Justice for 128 violent street gang prosecutions, recoveries and judgments totaling $195 million, and a crackdown on predatory practices.

She said a six-year hiring freeze is expected to thaw, allowing the state to finally replace some of the 100 attorneys lost through attrition over that time.

With over 40,000 legal matters pending and 15,000 cases in litigation, Dow said the “staffing challenges’ are slowing courtroom progress.

 

Dow: Budget tighter, but department more efficient