State Sen. Peter Inverso, R-Mercer, has proposed expanding the state's Commission on Capital Budgeting and Planning into a more powerful entity with broad responsibility for overseeing and approving state bond issuance.

"What we are looking at is some mechanism to do a much better job in terms of debt and having certain standards and parameters for the issuance of debt," Inverso said in an interview after the hearings. He said such standards might include regulations governing the hiring of financial advisers and bond counsel as well as underwriters.

Lawmakers and industry officials discussed the proposal during hearings last week of the Senate's State Government Committee.

Several of the senator's Republican colleagues have questioned the growth of debt issuance under Gov. Jim Florio, a Democrat. The idea of a bond oversight board and a more active legislative role in borrowings has been a frequent subject of debate among lawmakers over the past four years.

"Up to now it's been a closed process and one in which the executive branch plays all the cards," Inverso said. He pointed to the Texas Bond Review Board as a possible model for expanding the capital planning commission's mandate.

Robert Lurie, New Jersey's director of public finance, said he is concerned that proposals for a greater legislative role in issuance would delay bringing new deals to market. Such delays could cost the state money if the market moves against a deal during the approval process, Lurie said.

But Inverso said the oversight system he envisions would be nimble enough to act quickly on a deal.

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