We have finally arrived at July 1, and New Jersey’s budget was signed before the deadline of June 30 at midnight.  In fact, with much pomp and circumstance, the budget was signed on Tuesday, June 29.  Governor Murphy, joined by Lieutenant Governor Oliver, Treasurer Liz Muoio, Assembly Speaker Coughlin, Senate President Sweeney, Senate Budget Chair Sarlo and Assembly Budget Chair Pintor-Marin went to Ross Elementary School in Woodbridge and signed the budget in a ceremony, as quipped by many reporters, that was longer than the amount of time the public had to read the budget bill before it was voted out of committee.

In spite of reporters’ comments, this budget is a terrific one for public education!  A beyond full pension payment, money for schools and community colleges, and money put away to pay down debt in the debt defeasance fund.  You can read more about the state budget here, https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/06/njs-46-4-billion-budget-now-a-done-deal/, and see the “Christmas tree items” here: https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/06/the-christmas-tree-list-senate-says-who-got-what-in-budget/.  This is about budget resolutions, where legislators ask for additional funding for programs that weren’t included in the governor’s budget.  These resolutions became controversial due to the perceived lack of transparency in the budget.  This budget didn’t seem any less transparent than usual.  My take is that there was a lot more money to spend and people wanted to know where it was going.

In other news, Governor Murphy and Acting Commissioner McMillan released guidance for schools for next year.  All of that guidance is subject to change.  You can read education reporter John Mooney’s take on the guidance https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/06/murphy-mandates-no-masks-for-schools-but-thats-not-absolute/.  Mooney also moderated a panel on back to school next year; you can watch it here: https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/06/back-to-school-in-nj-what-to-expect-this-fall//

Finally, some food for thought.

While both houses of the legislature passed the budget on the 24th, the Senate did come back to Trenton yesterday to pass some additional bills.  These results are below.

BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW BY THE GOVERNOR

  • A12 – “New Jersey College Affordability Act”; appropriates $10 million. (Monitor)
  • A13 – Establishes “New Jersey Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund,” appropriates $3.7 billion. (Support)
  • A5339 – Provides partial pension and retirement income exclusion for taxpayers with income between $100,000 and $150,000. (Monitor)
  • S2022 – Appropriates $46,380,012,000 in State funds and $21,026,030,082 in federal funds for the State budget for fiscal year 2021-2022. (Support)
  • S3798 – Eliminates premiums and waiting periods for certain NJ FamilyCare enrollees and directs DHS to implement additional targeted outreach initiatives to increase enrollment. (Support)

RESULTS FROM WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30

  • A850 – Establishes “Broadband Access Study Commission.” (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • A4836/S3313 – Establishes task force to evaluate quality, efficacy, costs, and educational outcomes of online courses offered by public and independent institutions of higher education and degree-granting proprietary institutions during COVID-19 pandemic. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • A5818/S3849 – Provides for debarment of school bus contractors for certain violations; requires certain information in pupil transportation contract bid. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • A5825/S3847 – Changes effective date of Garden State Health Plan; exempts certain charter and renaissance schools from certain healthcare plan requirements; requires certain negotiations over certain health care costs. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • S84/S2093 – Requires institutions of higher education and public and nonpublic high schools and middle schools to adopt anti-hazing policies; expands activities encompassing criminal hazing and upgrades penalties for engaging in these activities. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • S108 – Concerns speech rights of student journalists at public schools and public institutions of higher education. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • S830 – Requires public water systems to offer drinking water tests to customers in certain circumstances. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • S2765 – Requires Civil Services Commission to undertake various initiatives to increase diversity and inclusivity within law enforcement agencies. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • S2766 – Requires Civil Service Commission establish mentoring program for certain civil service law enforcement applicants. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • S2767 – Establishes database to aid in civil service hiring process for certain law enforcement officers; requires Statewide diversity analysis of law enforcement. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • S3257 – Establishes Task Force for the Development of Universal Child Care. (Support) (Passed in Senate) (Passed in Senate)
  • S3284 – Provides for accidental death benefit if death of TPAF member and certain PERS members is caused by COVID-19. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S3488 – Modifies certain procedures pertaining to school district regionalization; establishes grant program for cost reimbursement of conducting regionalization feasibility studies; and provides financial incentives for regionalization. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • A3027/S793 – Commits $3 million from Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skill to NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development. (Support) (Passed in both houses and sent to governor)
  • SJR81 – Designates second week of November of each year as “National Apprenticeship Week in New Jersey.” (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S3617 – Establishes School Funding Formula Evaluation Task Force. (Seek amendments) (Passed in Senate)
  • A5817/S3852 – Revises violation and fines for approving or assigning unauthorized individuals as school bus drivers. (Support) (Passed in Senate and sent to governor)

WHEN IS THE LEGISLATURE MEETING AGAIN?

“See you in November!”

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said this (it is a quote!) at the conclusion of the Assembly voting session on June 24.  After today’s Senate voting session, Senate President Sweeney told the press he has no voting sessions planned before election day.  So barring any emergencies, everything else will get done in lame duck….

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