New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie once again finds himself in the middle of a self-inflicted controversy over his veto of the "Sandy Bill of Rights."
As noted in an editorial by the Star-Ledger Editorial Board on May 14, Gov. Christie "gutted the Sandy Bill of Rights as 'partisan' even though not a single legislator voted against it." The headline of the editorial said "Lawmakers should override the Christie veto."
Essentially, the legislation makes two points. It would require the state to allocate federal aid to cities and towns based on how much damage they had suffered in the storm, which occurred in late October 2012. And it would require that applications for aid be easier to understand and that applicants should be able to keep track of where their applications stood. As the editorial points out, "Thousands of storm victims still have not received their federal aid and, at the very least, the state owes them transparency."
In an article on the veto by Patrick MGeehan in the New York Times, he said the legislation passed in March was "inspired by reports of problems with the process for receiving aid and questions about money that was awarded to some projects in towns that had sustained little damage.
"Mr. Christie vetoed the bill conditionally, suggesting a long list of changes he said would improve it. Among the suggestions was the elimination of the requirement that aid be allocated to towns in proportion to the damage they suffered."
The governor called the measures in the bill "a series of post-hock 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."
The Star-Leger said Christie's veto, "written in typical bureaucratese," was "nonsense" when it said the legislation clashed with federal law. "The bill included a caveat that if any of its provisions conflicted with federal law, federal law would win out," the editorial said.
Stephen Sweeney, the Democratic president of the New Jersey Senate and lead sponsor of the "Sandy" bill, said he would move to override the governor's veto.
"The governor's action today lacks common sense," Sweeney said in a statement. ""His administration continues to mismanage the Sandy recovery process, and this veto may be one of the biggest blunders yet. The governor talked incessantly about how much he cared for those who'd lost their homes, their belongings, their livelihoods. Given today's action, we must seriously question his motivations and sincerity."