NEWARK – An Assembly Republican is calling into question the transparency of the lower chamber’s budget hearing process.
Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, (R-25), Boonton, who sits on the Assembly Budget Committee, voiced concern ahead of Tuesday’s budget hearing in Newark that the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services is acting in a partisan manner by refusing to share witness lists prior to the hearing.
“Providing a list of people who wish to testify – which has always been done before – gives important context about the budget and how it affects people,” Bucco said in a statement later in the day.
“Putting a lid on public participation stifles a thorough and transparent discussion with our constituents about the proposed budget.”
Bucco criticized the committee’s chairman, Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, (D-32), Secaucus, for directing OLS not to release the witness list until the day of the hearing.
Prieto explained at the time that he follows the same protocols of other committee chairs.
Bucco said he has repeatedly asked OLS to make the lists public ahead of the hearings, rather than the day of.
An Assembly Democratic spokesman, Tom Hester, criticized Bucco for taking attention away from the real crux of the hearings.
“That list is put together for the chairman so he can run an orderly hearing. All members of the committee get a copy of the list before the hearing begins, so any claim by Assemblyman Bucco that he’s been denied this information is false,” Hester said.
“Meanwhile, as Assemblyman Bucco whines about a list he receives, the Democratic members of the budget committee are listening to the public about their needs,” he said. “That’s a noteworthy contrast.”