Newark — Democratic candidate for governor Phil Murphy today said a report from Bloomberg News highlighting the lack of transparency in NJ Transit’s financial operations is part of a wider epidemic throughout the Christie administration of keeping critical information away from the public. Murphy pledged a more open government if elected.
According to the report, NJ Transit officials have gone to great lengths to keep information from the public, including conducting meetings via conference call to keep them out of public view, delaying OPRA information requests, and releasing insufficient budget and financial documents. Bloomberg noted that, in a recent meeting, the agency distilled more than $2 billion in spending to a three-page document.
“The commuting public has a basic right to know how their fare money is being spent, especially in times of increased delays and decreased reliability,” Murphy said. “It is unacceptable that NJ Transit would use questionable tactics to decrease transparency and increase bureaucratic opaqueness. NJ Transit exists to serve the residents of New Jersey, but these games ignore this core mission.”
Murphy said as governor he would end the neglect of New Jersey’s mass transit system, which has deteriorated greatly after years of mismanagement under Gov. Christie. He noted that the state’s economic rejuvenation relies heavily on investing in our aging transportation infrastructure and ending the cycle of service cuts coupled with crippling fare hikes.
“The neglect of our mass transit system — exemplified by the disastrous decision to abandon the ARC tunnel — will be a lasting legacy of the Christie administration,” said Murphy. “Commuters have paid a heavy price for Trenton’s failed leadership, both literally and figuratively.”
Murphy noted that such efforts to shield public spending from view are nothing new in the Christie administration. He highlighted the governor’s own vetoes of bills that would have shined more light on how Sandy relief funds were spent and also how the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey conducted its business. The governor also vetoed another bill that would have required the state to provide greater detail regarding state debt to the public.
“The people of New Jersey can’t be blamed for not trusting that their money is being spent wisely when they can’t even get a fair look at the books,” said Murphy. “Quite simply, these games will end when I am governor.”