Special to Montclair Local

I am running for state Senate president because we must restore transparency and accountability to our legislative process.

The legislature has taken power over taxing and spending from the public and given it to a small, restrictive group of individuals and automatic processes. This has had the effect of denying public transparency and the opportunity to participate in the legislative process.

From automatic toll increases to the way federal COVID-19 relief funds have been prioritized and allocated, the public has been shut out time and time again.

As state Senate president, I would be committed to reversing this and restoring transparency and accountability for the public and legislature over these processes. We must change the statutes that place power over tax increases and the allocation and expenditure of billions in public funds to a small restrictive group of individuals with limited transparency and little accountability to the public. We cannot do this until we have independent and accountable leadership in the Senate presidency.

Our state has received more than $48 billion in federal funding throughout the pandemic, yet New Jerseyians have experienced little relief for kitchen table issues. Much of this money has been spent, yet billions remain and we must take the opportunity for our legislature to put this money into relieving the burden on New Jersey families. I am committed to enacting an economic recovery agenda with input from the public and senators from all 40 districts. We must allocate and prioritize this remaining money to service communities across the state in a more equitable manner and make New Jersey a more affordable place to live.

We must also reestablish legislative transparency and accountability. This includes ensuring the ability for all senators to be equally serviced by the staff and resources of the senate. This includes guaranteeing the public has access to all proceedings. This includes giving legislators and the people ample time to review and provide input on proposed legislation before it proceeds for a vote.

I have said before: We cannot be tempted by the path of least resistance and perpetuate the same dynamics the voters so clearly rebuked. We must take this opportunity to embrace the change the voters have demanded. That demand includes a change to independent and inclusive leadership in the Senate. I am ready to meet this critical moment with the gravity it demands. I seek the support of my colleagues and the public to meet it together.

Nia H. Gill is a New Jersey state senator representing the 34th Legislative District.

Editor's note: Last month, state Senate Democrats picked state Sen. Nicholas Scutari to be the next state Senate president, in a closed-door, 21-0 vote; only Gill abstained. But the selection is not official until a formal Jan. 11 vote, and Gill plans to publicly challenge Scutari.


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