A New Jersey lawmaker has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop Gov. Chris Christie’s borrowing plans for new state office buildings.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, filed suit in Mercer County Superior Court Thursday in an attempt to halt the planned issuance of $381.2 million for new buildings that would house the state’s departments of taxation, agriculture and health.
Ten other opponents of the bond plan, including Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Trenton, filed a similar suit on Dec. 18 arguing that the bonding is illegal because it requires voter approval. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is planning to issue the state lease revenue bonds on Jan. 4 with RBC Capital Markets leading the deal.
“Governor Christie's contempt for New Jersey's voters has resulted in the Governor making an end-run around our State Constitution's requirement that voters approve state debt of this magnitude," said Wisniewski in a statement. "New Jersey residents are on the hook for the cost of these projects, which are expected to total hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Wisniewski was also among a bipartisan group of lawmakers that unsuccessfully attempted to block $300 million of debt issued by the Christie administration to renovate sections of the State House. The NJEDA bonds were sold in a private placement on May 11 led by RBC.
The press offices for Gov. Christie and the state attorney general's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wisniewski’s lawsuit. Christie’s eight-year gubernatorial run ends on Jan. 16, when Democratic Gov.-Elect Phil Murphy gets sworn in.
The NJEDA offering is slated to feature $197.275 million bonds for a Health Department and Taxation Division office project in Trenton; $19.225 million of taxable bonds for the Health Department office project; and $164.695 million of bonds for new Juvenile Justice Commission facilities in Ewing, Winslow and Woodbridge. The deal has ratings of Baa1 from Moody’s Investors Service, BBB-plus from S&P Global Ratings and A-minus from Fitch Ratings.