State Senator Nia Gill addresses the crowd at a ceremony honoring Celess Young, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FILE PHOTO)

Special at Montclair Local

I am running for President of the State Senate because we need to restore transparency and accountability to our legislative process.

The legislature took power over taxation and public spending and handed it over to a small, restrictive group of individuals and automatic processes. This has had the effect of depriving the public of 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 President of the State Senate, I would be committed to reversing this trend and restoring transparency and accountability to the public and the legislature over these processes. We need to change the laws that grant power over tax increases and the allocation and spending of billions of 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 responsible leadership as the Speaker of the Senate.

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Our state has received more than $ 48 billion in federal funding throughout the pandemic, but New Jerseyians have felt little relief for the kitchen table issues. Much of that money has been spent, but billions remain and we must seize the opportunity for our legislature to devote this money to lightening the burden on New Jersey families. I pledge to implement an economic recovery program with the contribution of the public and senators from the 40 districts. We need to allocate and prioritize this remaining money to service communities across the state more equitably and make New Jersey a more affordable place to live.

We also need to restore legislative transparency and accountability. This includes ensuring the ability of all senators to be equally served by the staff and resources of the Senate. This includes ensuring that the public has access to all proceedings. This involves giving lawmakers and the people enough time to consider and give their opinion on proposed legislation before it goes to a vote.

I have said before: we cannot be tempted by the path of least resistance and perpetuate the same dynamic that the voters so clearly rebuked. We must take this opportunity to embrace the change that voters have called for. This demand includes a shift towards independent and inclusive leadership in the Senate. I am ready to face this critical moment with the gravity it demands. I ask for the support of my colleagues and the public to meet him together.

Nia H. Gill is a New Jersey State Senator representing the 34th Legislative District.

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

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