Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Slaps Conditional Veto on Sandy Aid Measure

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Slaps Conditional Veto on Sandy Aid Measure

Article excerpt

Governor Christie on Monday rejected a measure aimed at improving New Jersey's ongoing recovery from Superstorm Sandy, telling lawmakers in a strongly worded veto message that it would "prove impossible to implement."

His action, a conditional veto, came on the same day an oversight hearing in Trenton tried to determine why no reports have been submitted by monitors the state hired in response to a March 2013 law aimed at rooting out waste and abuse in the programs set up to assist victims of the Oct. 29, 2012, storm.

Christie has made the state's Sandy recovery effort a top priority, holding a series of town-hall-style meetings this year in Sandy-damaged towns to hear from storm victims. Images of the recovery were also frequently shown during his successful campaign for a second term last year as Christie's popularity surged.

But public opinion on the Sandy recovery has shifted this year as many homeowners struggle to get back into their homes, and as problems with some of the outside contractors hired by the Christie administration to administer recovery programs have to come light in recent months.

Legislation dubbed the "Sandy Bill of Rights" by its sponsor, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, was aimed at making the distribution of federal aid more effective and transparent. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously in March.

But in a conditional veto message released Monday afternoon, Christie, a Republican, said the bill proposed "new administrative procedures and spending requirements accompanied by a raft of partisan political findings, all styled as 'rights' ready to be pursued by lawyers."

"Indeed, what is portrayed as a method for allocating Superstorm Sandy recovery aid -- some eighteen months after the disaster and more than a year after federal aid arrived -- is unfortunately a series of post-hoc mandates that are violative of state and federal law, rife with illegal priorities and unquantifiable administrative costs, that would prove impossible to implement, frustrate sound future disaster planning, and all but certainly exceed federal funding for program administration," Christie wrote in the statement. …

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