Governor Christie: Come Clean on Trust Fund Raid
Posted by Kevin Walsh on July 20th 2012
Yesterday, according to State Street Wire’s reporting on Gov. Christie’s press conference, Christie sought to deflect responsibility for seizing municipal housing trust funds. The online newspaper reports that “Christie pointed out that this was not just his decision, but the Legislature’s decision as well.” The governor said that “It was a majority party decision to use COAH funds as well.” Christie claimed that “This was one of those rare times when everyone in (state) elected positions was happy. The Democrats wanted to use that money and did use it.”
These claims go beyond spin; they are dishonest. The Legislature tried three different ways to block the governor from raiding the trust funds. The Legislature passed legislation, with votes from both Democrats and Republicans, that would have extended the deadline for committing funds by two years. Christie vetoed it. The Legislature also included budget language that would have insulated the funds from Christie’s raid by stating that municipalities could protect the funds by passing a resolution or ordinance that detailed how the would be used. Christie line-item vetoed that provision. In an effort to address our state’s foreclosure crisis, the Legislature authorized municipalities to use trust funds to purchase vacant foreclosed properties. Christie also vetoed that legislation.
Mayors, lower-income New Jerseyans, and non-profit and special needs developers should know: when someone from Trenton shows up to take the municipal trust funds, it isn’t the Legislature that gave that person his or her marching orders. It isn’t even a united front of the Governor’s own party, given the numerous legislators and mayors that have publicly taken opposite stances. Nor is it even the board of the Council on Affordable Housing, which hasn’t met in more than a year and never discussed this issue when it was meeting. No, this is Chris Christie, who used his executive powers to block three different reasonable proposals from the Legislature, and he refused to issue any guidance on what towns had to do to stop the funds from being taken.
The man knocking on the front door of town hall who was driven there in an armored car? That’s Chris Christie, and he’s coming for your municipal trust funds. He alone is responsible for taking the money, and anything he says to the contrary is only intended to deflect attention from his raid.
We will continue to keep you posted on our fight, alongside the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, to stop the Governor from raiding these funds when he has failed to give anyone involved any rules on what it means to “commit” the money and vetoed legislative efforts to save the trust funds for housing that New Jersey needs.