Legislative Update – April 18, 2022

The legislature is officially on “budget break,” a bill to end the edTPA as a requirement to get a teaching certificate passed in the full Senate, and a bill to make the NJGPA (the 11th grade exit assessment) a field test passed in the full Assembly. 

In this update:

  • Take action (please share!)
  • State budget
  • Desegregation lawsuit
  • Session day results

Take Action

  • Ask the Senate to make the NJGPA a field test
  • Ask the Assembly to end use of the edTPA as a requirement to get a teaching certificate:
  • Ask your Assembly members to co-sponsor a bill to add transparency to our community college boards of trustees

State Budget

The legislature is officially on “budget break.”  This means that regular legislative operations have ceased while budget committees hear from members of the public and department heads about the governor’s proposed budget.  Budget break, which started at the beginning of April, lasts about a month, with multiple days of hearings. 

The public hearings are usually first.  Each house has two public hearings, conducted on zoom this year.  Members of the public and organizations talk about what they would like to see in the budget.  For the rest of the month, cabinet members talk about how the governor’s proposed budget will meet their departmental goals.  Departmental hearings are kicked off a with the treasurer and the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) sharing their revenue forecasts, then updating them as the last budget hearing in May, after regular legislative business has resumed.

A reminder about Murphy’s budget: he emphasized affordability, economic opportunity, health and safety, and planning for the future.  It’s a good budget for public education.  The budget

  • Fully funds the pension.
  • Increases K-12 formula aid by an additional $650 million dollars — for a total of $9.9 billion.
  • Expands access to pre-K with an additional $68 million. $40 million goes towards creating 3,000 new pre-K seats.
  • Includes $20 million for Stabilization Aid to assist schools losing State Aid, and $13.5 million for Military Impact Aid.
  • Invests a total of $430 million in school construction and renovation:
    • $80 million for the Schools Development Authority (SDA) and DOE to award for capital maintenance and emergent needs ($50 million for SDA districts, $25 million for non-SDA districts, and $5 million for charter schools.)
    • $350 million appropriated for the SDA to reduce the State’s planned debt issuance. 
  • Creates a sliding scale for Community College Opportunity Grants (CCOG), so over 7,000 more students with household incomes up to $80,000 can benefit.

To kick off this year’s departmental hearings, Treasurer Muoio and OLS presented their budget forecasts.  As you can read, OLS suggests that the state will collect $3 billion more between this year and next year.  Read more about it here.

After the treasurer and OLS, the next hearing of note was the Department of Education in the Assembly.  This hearing also included the School Development Authority and the Department of Agriculture (mostly because of school meals) but we did get to hear a little about the state’s plan to handle stink bugs and spotted lantern flies.  The budget committee spent a lot of time asking the commissioner how the department was helping ensure students would be able to catch up on any learning they missed because of Covid-19.  John Mooney covered the hearing here.

Regular business resumes May 9; budget hearings will continue until mid-May.  Then the governor and the legislature will negotiate, and (hopefully) a budget will be voted on before the end of June.  Sometimes it’s close, and there’s a lot of talk about possible shutdowns as we approach June 30, the deadline by which the state must have a new budget.

Desegregation Lawsuit

At the beginning of March, a NJ Superior Court Judge heard arguments in a lawsuit claiming that New Jersey’s schools are segregated, and the state needs to take action to end school segregation.  Plaintiffs argued that New Jersey’s policy of having students enroll in school based on their zip code perpetuates the segregation in New Jersey’s schools.  The state countered that the plaintiffs did not prove that fixing the problem falls to the state, pointing out that the plaintiffs focused on demographics from 23 districts, while New Jersey has close to 600.  Read more about the court hearing.

At the end of March, the Joint Committee on the Public Schools (JCPS), a bipartisan committee made up of members from both houses of the legislature, heard from school officials and activists about how New Jersey could integrate its schools, which include school choice, magnet schools, and regional schools, but will require more funding.  The New Jersey Monitor (newjerseymonitor.com) highlighted the issue in an article today.

Results from March 24

  • A2067 – Requires Department of Education to annually report use of federal COVID-19 relief funds. (Monitor) (Passed in Assembly)
  • A3196 – Requires State Board of Education to administer New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment as field test for class of 2023. (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • AJR33 – Designates March 31 of each year as “Cesar Chavez Day.” (Support) (Passed in Assembly)
  • S525 – Enhances, and allocates funds for, pre-apprenticeship programs. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S713 – Requires school districts to include information on events of September 11, 2001 as part of New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Social Studies; requires public schools to hold annual events commemorating September 11, 2001. (No Position) (Passed in Senate)
  • S896 – Prohibits State Board of Education from requiring completion of performance-based assessment as condition of eligibility for certificate of eligibility with advanced standing. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S1731 – Establishes New Jersey Higher Education Student Advisory Commission. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S1929 – Makes FY 2022 supplemental appropriation to provide State military impact aid to certain school districts. (No Position) (Passed in Senate)
  • SR69 – Urges Congress to pass resolution condemning violence against historically Black colleges and universities. (Support) (Resolution passed; Filed with Secretary of Senate)

Results from March 21

  • S1800 – Establishes “Purple Star Schools Program” in DOE to recognize public and nonpublic schools which emphasize importance of assisting children of military families. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate)

When will the Legislature meet again? (subject to change)

  • Monday, May 9: Assembly and Senate Committees
  • Thursday, May 12: Assembly and Senate Committees
  • Monday, May 16: Assembly committees at the call; Senate Committees
  • Thursday, May 19: Assembly committees at the call; and Senate Committees
  • Thursday, May 26: Assembly and Senate Voting Session
  • Thursday, June 2: Assembly and Senate Committees
  • Monday, June 6: Senate Committees
  • Thursday, June 9: Assembly and Senate Committees
  • Monday, June 13: Assembly committees at the call; Senate Committees
  • Thursday, June 16: Assembly committees at the call; Assembly and Senate Voting session
  • Monday, June 20: Assembly committees at the call; Assembly and Senate Voting session
  • Thursday, June 23: Assembly committees at the call; Assembly Voting session
  • Monday, June 27 Assembly and Senate committees at the call; Assembly and Senate Voting session
  • Tuesday, June 28: Assembly committees at the call; Assembly Voting session
  • Wednesday, June 29: Assembly committees at the call; Assembly Voting session
  • Thursday, June 30: Assembly committees at the call; Assembly and Senate Voting session