First, some public service announcements.

Now, onto some budget information….

You’ve all read my explanation of this year’s budget season more than once.  During a normal budget season, statehouse regulars are usually lamenting the lack of transparency around the state budget.  This year was no different.  With the compressed schedule – the budget proposal on August 25, no in-person public testimony on the governor’s proposal, and only a few departmental hearings before the budget was heard in committee on September 22, there was less time to learn information about the budget.

At issue in this budget’s negotiations was revenue.  In addition to the borrowing proposed by the governor, his budget proposal also included a millionaires tax, a permanent corporate business tax surcharge, and taxes on boats, limousines, and guns and ammunition, among other items being taxed.  Once the legislature struck a deal on the millionaires tax, the rest of the budget was a done deal and it moved quickly.

On September 22, the budget bill was heard in committee in both houses.  In the Assembly, via zoom, and in the Senate, in-person in the statehouse.  Normally, budget bill day is long.  The hearing that is supposed to begin at 1:00 usually starts a few hours late and continues well past dinner time while lawmakers hammer out the final details.  This year, the Senate hearing started a half hour late and concluded within an hour, with only three groups (including NJEA) testifying on the budget.  And, to loosely quote one lawmaker, “People are complaining about the lack of transparency in this budget, but we actually had the bill written and done the night before the hearing.  We often vote on the budget bill when all we have is a list of changes from the governor’s proposal.”  Perhaps this year’s budget is more transparent than we think!

This year’s budget includes a millionaires tax, with rebates for some households next year and a temporary corporate surcharge.  Other taxes were not included.  The baby bonds are out.  The overall pool of school funding is flat (although this is a cut for some districts because of adjustments to aid amounts).  The legislature kept a $4.7 billion dollar pension payment, the largest we’ve seen, continuing the path to full funding of the pension, put $25 million more into extraordinary aid, restored $25 million of community college funding, and restored school-based youth services.  The budget also contains a $2 billion surplus for the unexpected.  As the Office of Legislative Services explained, it might seem silly to borrow $4.5 billion and leave 2 of it in surplus, but if New Jersey doesn’t borrow the money and then needs it due to a second wave of the pandemic, we won’t be able to borrow it.

Governor Murphy can’t sign the budget until the $4.5 billion of borrowing in the budget is approved, which is scheduled for Monday.  You can read more about the borrowing here: https://www.njspotlight.com/2020/09/nj-budget-2020-where-borrowed-funds-will-go-4-5-billion-debt/, the budget here: https://www.njspotlight.com/2020/09/nj-budget-2020-tax-increases-historic-borrowing-get-votes/, and NJEA’s full budget statement here: https://actioncenter.njea.org/s-2021-s-2934-s-2949-2021-state-budget/.

[Grammar note:  I questioned how to write millionaires tax.  Millionaires’ tax?  Millionaire’s tax?  Millionaires tax?  According to AP, who actually answered the question (thank you Patrick Rumaker!), the preferred form is millionaires tax with no apostrophe.]

A few other things….

BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW

  • A2212/S232 – Requires DEP to evaluate environmental and public health stressors of certain facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications. (Support)
  • A4378/S2573 – Establishes position of State School Nurse Consultant in DOE to facilitate best practices in school nursing by advancing comprehensive school health services. (Support)

RESULTS FROM MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2020

  • ACR190/SCR124 – Petitions federal government for emergency response funding to support safe reopening of schools following COVID‑19 pandemic. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)
  • S2691 – Requires Division of Local Government Services to approve local unit budgets with excess anticipated miscellaneous revenue due to COVID‑19 and authorizes school districts to maintain surplus at four percent for 2020‑2021 school year. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)
  • S2811 – Requires school report card to include information concerning number of mental health professionals and security personnel employed by each school district. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)
  • S2831 – Grants reciprocity to teachers with certain out‑of‑state certificates. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Monitor)
  • S2832 – Allows student enrolled in institution of higher education who has completed 30 semester‑hour credits to serve as substitute teacher. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)
  • S2849 – Directs NJ Department of Agriculture to request necessary waivers from US Department of Agriculture to provide food and meals during school closures due to COVID‑19 public health emergency. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)
  • S2899 – Establishes Safe Remote Learning Program in DOE to support provision of remote instruction facilities by public schools. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate. Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.) (Support)
  • S2908 – Increases child care provider payments and revises hourly limits on child care for school‑aged children under subsidized child care assistance program during 2020‑2021 school year. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate. Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.) (Support)

RESULTS FROM THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

  • S1147 Sca (1R) – Requires lead paint inspection prior to home purchases and tenant turnover; establishes educational program on lead hazards. (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.) (Support)

RESULTS FROM TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2020

  • A10/S2949 – Increases gross income tax rate from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent on income between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000, and provides up to $500 tax rebate to eligible taxpayers.  (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly and Senate) (Support)
  • A4720/S2021 – Appropriates $32,711,205,000 in State funds and $13,856,161,239 in federal funds for the State budget for fiscal year 2020‑2021.  (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly and Senate) (Support)
  • A4721/S2934 – Imposes CBT surtax at rate of 2.5 percent until December 31, 2023. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly and Senate) (Support)

RESULTS FROM THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2020

  • A10/S2949 – Increases gross income tax rate from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent on income between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000, and provides up to $500 tax rebate to eligible taxpayers.  (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor) (Support)
  • A1040 – Requires that if school district satisfies in certain evaluations 80% or more of required NJ Quality Single Accountability Continuum standards in an area of district effectiveness under State intervention, State must return area to local control. (Passed in Assembly) (Support)
  • A1076 – Requires AG to collect, record, analyze, and report certain prosecutorial and criminal justice data. (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor) (Support)
  • A1632 – Requires school district to establish “School Meal Fund” to assist students with school meal bill in arrears.  (Passed in Assembly) (Support)
  • A3548 – Requires health benefits coverage for adolescent depression screenings.  (Passed in Assembly) (Support)
  • A4720/S2021 – Appropriates $32,711,205,000 in State funds and $13,856,161,239 in federal funds for the State budget for fiscal year 2020‑2021.  (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor) (Support)
  • A4721/S2934 – Imposes CBT surtax at rate of 2.5 percent until December 31, 2023. (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor) (Support)
  • ACR190/SCR124 – Petitions federal government for emergency response funding to support safe reopening of schools following COVID‑19 pandemic. (Passed in both houses and filed) (Support)
  • S2401 – Prohibits public school students and employees from immediately returning to school after traveling to certain places during public health emergencies. (Passed in Senate) (Seek Amendments)

WHEN IS THE LEGISLATURE MEETING AGAIN? (subject to change)

  • Thursday, Oct. 8          Senate and Assembly Committees
  • Monday, Oct. 19          Senate and Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, Oct. 22        Senate and Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, Oct. 29        Senate and Assembly Voting Session
  • Monday, Nov. 9           Senate and Assembly Committees
  • Monday, Nov. 16         Senate and Assembly Committees
  • Monday, Dec. 7           Senate and Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, Dec. 10        Senate and Assembly Committees
  • Monday, Dec. 14         Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, Dec. 17       Senate and Assembly Voting Session

Who made it to the end? 😊

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