S-2013/A-3200

Signed into law by the Governor on 6/29/12 with line-item veto, P.L.2012, c.18

S-2013/A-3200

FY 2013 Budget Bill

NJEA supports S-2013 (Sarlo)/A-3200 (Prieto).  The proposed $31.7 billion 2012-2013 state budget provides $11,735,739 in total State Aid to schools. This funding is necessary for New Jersey to maintain our quality schools. 

NJEA supports this budget bill because it: 

  • Increases state aid to schools this year.  Under the proposed budget, 484 districts will see an increase in state aid over 2011-12 figures.
  • Increases funds for special education.
  • Increases Opportunity Program Grants for higher education by $3 million.
  • Provides for a pension contribution that is consistent with recently enacted legislation.

Although NJEA is supporting this budget, the Association has some significant reservations about it.

  • While the majority of districts received a small increase in State Aid in FY 2013, overall State funding still does not fully-fund the statutory school funding formula. As proposed, state support still falls behind by over $700 million.
    • 97 school districts, almost 16 percent, will see a decrease in State Aid in FY 2013.  We are concerned what the impact of these cuts will have on school programs and closing the achievement gap in these districts,
    • Even the school districts receiving an increase in State Aid are still trying to cope with previous cuts in prior years due to the poor economy.  Between 2010 and the present budget, public schools were underfunded by approximately $3.6 billion – necessitating the elimination of certain programs, many after school activities and the layoffs of thousands of school employees.
  • While this budget provides pension funding in the amount required by recent legislation, NJEA continues to maintain that the State should make every effort to fund the pension system at the full actuarially required contribution level as provided in the annual fund valuations in order to more aggressively reduce the unfunded pension liability.  Our members are cognizant of the need for sacrifice, and have repeatedly done so over the last several years via increased contributions to the retirement systems and additional contributions to fund their employer-sponsored health insurance.  We urge the State to make its required pension payment ‐ it is the right and legal thing to do.
  • NJEA is also concerned that the proposed budget reserves $183 million in anticipation of a tax cut later in the year.  We applaud the Legislature’s responsible approach of delaying the tax cut until actual revenues become available, however, we ask you to make the more responsible choice of providing full-funding of our public schools, adequate funding for local government aid and accelerated pension contributions before enacting a tax cut whose long-term consequences are difficult to determine.  
  • NJEA continues to believe that substantial increases in general operating aid needs to be provided to county colleges as a means to rein in rising tuition. We also encourage the restoration of cuts made by the Governor to the NJ STARS program, which provides access to college for many students who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

In spite of these concerns, NJEA asks you to vote “yes” on S-2013/A-3200.