Weekly Roundup: Week of Aug. 27

TRENTON – While Republicans, including Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos and other delegates partied it up in Tampa at the Republican National Convention, things were quiet in the Statehouse.

However, Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno was on the road announcing some important programs.

Among them was the Transit Village designation for the Dunellen train station, which makes it the 26th  such village in the state.

She also announced that $300,000 in grants would be awarded to train workers for various redevelopment projects in the city of Newark.

Political winds

Third District lawmakers got together at a now-defunct storage tank site in gritty Paulsboro that they hope will be the sight of a wind power turbine manufacturing facility. However, progress has been slow going and the lawmakers – Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Assemblywoman Celeste Riley – put the blame squarely on Gov. Chris Christie, who they believe hasn’t moved on it because he wanted to beef up his conservative bona fides.

They called on the governor to refocus his efforts on wind energy manufacturing for the sake of creating more jobs and saving the environment.

Wasteful spending

The groups in charge of monitoring state finances – the state Comptroller’s and Auditor’s offices – both came out with recommendations on how to be more cost-efficient and root out wasteful spending.

The state comptroller’s office warned local governmental entities to be on the lookout for hidden costs that third party administrators may issue in connection with workmen’s compensation programs.

And, the state auditor’s office suggested steps for two departments to save money – the Division of Developmental Disabilities and the Juvenile Justice Commission

The Office of the State Auditor recommended in the report that the Department of Law and Public Safety’s Juvenile Justice Commission – which spent $22.3 million in 2011 on its 215 residents – consolidate its 13 residential centers. The savings could be more than $600,000 each year, the report estimated.

Also, the auditor recommended that the state Division of Developmental Disabilities do a better job of using its in-house staff instead of contracting for services. It also said the division needs to do a better job collecting fees from residents to help maintain the facilities.   A large amount of fees go uncollected each year. It recommended placing liens as a means to collect what is owed.

The report cited a 45 percent drop in residents living at juvenile centers over the past 12 years. The state’s 13 juvenile facilities have a combined building capacity to hold 373 juveniles, according to the audit.

  Weekly Roundup: Week of Aug. 27