New Jersey voters decided yesterday to put tighter restrictions on how the state borrows money.
But they rejected a measure that would have allowed local officials, rather than the governor, to appoint joint municipal judges who serve multiple communities.
With about 76 percent of votes counted, the borrowing question was backed by 57 percent of voters. The judicial appointments question was endorsed by only 45 percent of voters.
Proponents of the borrowing measure noted that state officials had often been able to get around constitutional requirements for voter approval when the Legislature and governor wanted to borrow money. They said the changes were needed to ensure that voters have final say on such fiscal matters.
The measure approved last night still allows authorities to borrow without voter approval if the debt is paid with fees, such as the tolls from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. It also won't apply if there is a constitutionally dedicated revenue stream to service the debt, such as the gasoline tax that goes toward the Transportation Trust Fund Authority.
The measure to change the way some judges were appointed had been backed by the New Jersey League of Municipalities. They said not only would it help towns work together, but that it would give more control to local officials.
State law required shared municipal judges to be appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate. The ballot question would have allowed the Legislature to establish methods for local officials to appoint judges even when more than one town is involved.