On July 1, two days after the legislature passed Chapter 78 relief, the governor signed it. While the binding arbitration bill has passed both houses of the legislature, we are still waiting for the subcontracting bill to be reconciled between the houses and expect that to happen soon. (One house includes four-year colleges, while the other doesn’t.). If you haven’t already, please thank the legislature for voting on the bills, and remind the Senate that they still have one more bill to pass: https://actioncenter.njea.org/thank-the-legislature/
On the budget front, while the legislature passed a three-month extension to the budget, the state still faces unprecedented budget shortfalls. The governor proposed a combination of bonding and borrowing from the federal government to the tune of almost $15 billion. While the Assembly passed this bill at the start of June, the Senate wasn’t on board. Senate President Sweeney and the administration finally reached a compromise of $9.9 billion, and today, the Senate Budget Committee released the agreed-to version of the bill from committee, which both houses will approve on Thursday. You can read about it here: https://www.njspotlight.com/2020/07/first-detailed-look-at-murphys-revamped-10b-emergency-borrowing-bill/. As the state faces uncertainty about revenue, this bill will help the state meet its obligations.
In other news, school re-opening is the topic as districts face decisions about the fall. President Trump’s call to re-open schools is being rejected by some districts in the country: https://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2020/07/13/trumps-demand-that-schools-fully-reopen-spurned-by-big-districts-1300426. Here in New Jersey, districts are supposed to have their plans ready a month before schools open. But it is unclear what schools will look like, as John Mooney writes: https://www.njspotlight.com/2020/07/new-covid-19-concern-for-nj-schools-will-teachers-return-to-classrooms/. And the governor’s recent comments seem to reveal that the DOE may be looking more closely at its dictate that schools should have some in-person instruction in the fall, as this comment from Friday’s briefing: https://twitter.com/CarlySitrin/status/1281648985699045376
Higher Education is facing the same dilemmas about reopening, and NJEA members Paul Belmonte (Union County College) and Michael Ferlise, (Hudson County College) testified about the issues facing our community colleges to the Assembly Higher Education Committee last week. You can listen to them here, although they are close to the end of the hearing: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/mp.asp?M=V/2020/AHI/0709-0100PM-M0-1.mp4&S=2020