FISCAL YEAR 2012 STATE BUDGET: S-4000 (Sarlo)/A-4200 (Greenwald) The FY 2012 budget bill would appropriate a total of $30.6 billion, approximately $1.1 billion more than Governor Christie’s proposed budget. NJEA supported the bill because it:
- Increased state aid to schools by more than $1 billion. The former Abbott Districts will receive an additional $447 million and suburban school districts will receive about $660 million over the Governor’s recommended budget.
- Includes the statutorily required one-seventh payment of approximately $505 million toward State pension funds in FY 2012. NJEA did, however, express concern that the amount contributed is still less than what is actuarially required and therefore continues a pattern of significantly underfunding the State’s obligation.
- Funds the employers’ share of Social Security contributions and the premium for public employee post-retirement medical benefits.
- Maintains support for county colleges and increases funding for some tuition assistance programs by roughly $20 million.
This legislation was reported out of the Assembly Budget Committee and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and is now on second reading in both houses.
OUT-OF-STATE HEALTH CARE: S-2959 (Sweeney, Allen)/A-4162 (Greenwald, O’Scanlon, Chiusano) S-2959 passed in the Senate 38-0 to concur with Assembly amendments. The bill amends S-2937/A-4133, the bill that changes pensions and benefits for public workers. The amendments remove any limitations on out-of-state care by deleting the section of S-2937/A-4133 that limits out-of-state care. NJEA originally opposed the bill but took no position on the amended version. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.
MILLIONAIRES’ TAX: S-2969 (Lesniak, Norcross, Greenstein)/A-4202 (McKeon,
Riley, Spencer, Coutinho) This bill passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee with party-line votes. The legislation, known as the “millionaires’ tax,” increases the gross income tax rate on income exceeding $1,000,000 for taxable years 2011 and 2012 and expands the gross income tax exclusion for pensions, annuities and other retirement income for certain taxpayers beginning in 2011. NJEA supported the bill which now goes to a vote in both houses, where it is expected to pass also. The governor—who has vetoed such legislation before—certainly will do so again, so its future will depend on whether the Legislature can override another veto. (BKB)
FULL FUNDING OF AID FORMULA: S-2970 (Sweeney, Whelan)/A-4203 (Greenwald) This bill passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee with party-line votes. This legislation—which is dependent upon the enactment of S-2969/A-4202—would provide state school aid to districts in amounts consistent with the provisions of "the School Funding Reform Act of 2008." This legislation would fully fund school districts, other than SDA (former Abbott) districts. NJEA supported the bill, which now moves to a vote in both houses.
Requires Education Service Agencies to Assist Local School Districts in Shared Services
: S-769 (Sweeney) passed the Senate (24-11) and moves to the Assembly Education Committee. This bill provides that the executive county superintendent of schools in each county must identify an education services agency, either a county special services district or an education services commission, to promote shared services. The legislation does not address the quality of educational programs or allow school districts to determine whether or not they wish to use a designated “county” district for enumerated services. This legislation would undercut local school district control of current programs and services while providing no opportunity for educational oversight of the arrangement. NJEA opposed the bill based on the need to seek clarification on transparency, accountability and competition.