Christie administration details waste, fraud and abuse

When Gov. Christie announced steps he would take to close a $2.3 billion budget gap, his administration claimed to have found $70 million in waste, fraud and abuse.

Democratic lawmakers subsequently asked for a more detailed accounting of that $70 million.

In a letter addressed to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo, State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff elaborated on items that the administration considered waste, fraud and abuse. The letter noted that "no such formal list had previously been prepared" and that "references by others and me were based on informal characterizations during budget discussions."

Among the items included:

* InvestNJ, a $58 million program to provide subsidies to corporations that promised to create jobs. According to the letter, the program, while well-intended, failed to prioritize funding or ensure that funding was only provided where jobs would not otherwise have been created.

* $3.65 million in unspent funds from the defunct Property Tax Assistance and Community Development Grants Program, commonly known as the "MAC" program. Criticized as overly political and lacking in accountability, the program was ended under Gov. Jon Corzine.

* An estimated $20 million to be generated by addressing a backlog in contested tax cases, considered wasteful because "the State is missing out on the opportunity to collect delinquent taxes."

* Cutting $200,000 from the Department of Public Advocate for functions that, in the eyes of the administration, duplicated services provided by others in state government.

Eristoff also said in the letter that he planned to cancel $200,000 worth of subscriptions throughout state departments, noting that of the dozen or so delivered to his office every day, most went unread and were available for free on the Internet. 

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