In a little-noticed development late Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the second iteration of a potentially disastrous foreclosure bill that would have given a state agency the power to use public dollars to purchase foreclosed properties, turn them into low-income housing (even if that would be radically different from the existing character of the neighborhood) and then restrict the deed for 30 years. This horrendous piece of legislation would have created all-but-permanent single-structure housing projects in the middle of bucolic suburbs. An earlier version of the bill was vetoed in June 2012.
The bill, titled the Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act, would better have been called the Residential Neighborhood Destruction Act.
Christie continues to disappoint on basic economics. Just as his June 2012 veto of the first foreclosure transformation bill was the correct outcome with the wrong reason -- he cited state budget problems and not the severe danger to homeowners from the first bill, thus signaling to homeowners that he did not share their concerns nor would protect them against a foreseeable revision of the bill, which did occur just weeks later. Now, his conditional veto is based on the belief that federal funds should be used to help defaulting homeowners. These rationales continue to underscore my contention (fear) that Christie has no core philosophical or ideological values -- ambition notwithstanding as that is a character trait -- and consequently, the economic welfare of homeowners, property owners and business owners in New Jersey continue to be placed at risk.
On a positive note, however, Christie's veto of a different bill speeding up foreclosures is a necessary protection against litigation abuse, so-called sewer service and other abuses of due process. We commend Governor Christie for his veto of Senate bill 2156.