Chris Christie’s cutting funding for LUARC, but here’s how New Jersey is navigating the tough politics and vested interests preventing municipal consolidation:
The LUARC Commission was modeled on a federal program, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission, which was instituted in 1989 to close unnecessary military basis. Prior to BRAC, Congress had found it very difficult to close military bases, even when they were no longer useful, because a military base can bring millions of dollars to a district, and politicians that represented such districts often objected.
BRAC circumvented these challenges by creating a list of bases that should be closed and then providing that list to Congress. Congress then had to vote “up or down” — meaning it had to approve the entire list or none of it — which made it easier for individual politicians to close bases in their own districts. To date, the BRAC process has resulted in the closure of nearly 100 bases.
“LUARCC was the same idea,” said Andrew Bruck, research director for Courage to Connect. “Since there are a lot of vested interests in each municipality, you need to insulate politicians from the process.”