12:57 PM, Apr. 5, 2012
The Daily Record is entirely correct in calling the state’s claiming of unused gift card and gift certificates for balancing the budget a “ridiculous money grab,” but your version of how this misguided law came to be shows your memory to be foggy (“Gift-card law little more than Trenton money grab,” April 4).
To be certain, this law was hatched entirely by Gov. Christie in his first budget in 2010 as a way of collecting the extra $79 million he said he needed to balance the state’s books, and was pushed by the administration despite opposition from the business community. When the governor presented his budget to the Legislature in March 2010, he called this scheme “rationalizing statutory rules with respect to unclaimed property” — which is just a fancy way of saying “money grab.” It was, unfortunately, one of the aspects of the budget that survived among the series of compromises that were made to ensure the state would meet its constitutional deadline of having a balanced budget in place by July 1.
In 2011, I sponsored legislation to reverse the law, only to see it die in the face of a threatened veto by the governor and the prospect that no Republicans would support an override attempt. And despite the business community’s legal challenge, the administration’s aggressive defense of this law succeeded in upholding it and creating the situation we find ourselves in today.
While the Legislature voted to pass the governor’s budget two years ago, your editorial, by failing to place any of the responsibility for this policy where it belongs — with the governor — ignores the law’s history.
Sen. Paul A. Sarlo
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee