Budget season has begun!  While coronavirus fears might be prompting some in the political world to bump elbows rather than shaking hands and kissing, it hasn’t stopped politics.  Outside of New Jersey, there’s a lot of news in the Democratic presidential primary.  Inside New Jersey, budget season has begun with four public budget hearings that start next week, two for the Senate Budget Committee, followed by two for the Assembly Budget Committee later in the month.  After this, as you may recall, both houses will hear from the state’s commissioners and department heads about their budgets.  These departmental hearings have not yet been scheduled.

The Assembly released its calendar for April-June, leaving the month of April open for the “budget break” I mentioned in previous updates, with an optimistic last date of June 25 for a voting session.  (Optimistic because it presumes the budget will be done before the last Monday in June, the 29.  Of course, the 29 or 30 could always be added later.)  The Senate has not yet released its April-June calendar. 

In the News

  • School aid snafu

The Education Law Center stated that school aid numbers had been calculated on 2018 taxes, making them incorrect.  The Department of Education released new aid numbers, explaining that it is constitutionally required to release aid numbers two days after the budget address, but 2019 tax numbers had not yet been finalized for the calculation.  When the new tax numbers were released, only Pemberton school district’s aid numbers changed, seeing a $2 million increase.  Read more

  • Instruction in case of school closures due to the coronavirus

As New Jersey learned of its first two confirmed coronavirus cases, questions have arisen of what will happen should schools need to close.  A few legislators proposed a bill that would allow districts to use remote or virtual education in emergency situations.  In the meantime, the DOE released guidance that would seem to make that bill unnecessary, as the guidance allows districts to use home instruction regulations, which allow virtual instruction, in case of school closures.

Remember to wash your hands and sing “Happy Birthday” twice while doing it.  This is still, experts say, the best way to prevent the spread of disease.  The Centers for Disease Control has some good handwashing tips.

The NJ Department of Health has a coronavirus page where you can find more information.  

Take Action

Results from Thursday, March 5 

  • A2106/S971 – “New Jersey Fair Play Act”; allows collegiate student-athletes to earn compensation for use of name, image, or likeness. (No position) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • A2549 – Requires certain health care providers, SHBP, and School Employees’ Health Benefits Program to submit certain health care claims data to DOBI. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee)
  • A3628/S960 – Requires parent to provide completed financial aid application to Higher Education Student Assistance Authority if parent’s dependent applies to State for student financial aid. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • A681 – Expands scope of law prohibiting age discrimination. (Support) (For discussion only)
  • AJR27 – Designates April of each year as “County College Month” in New Jersey. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly)
  • S1017 – Provides retirement allowance after 20 years of service regardless of age for members of PFRS. (Monitor; not applicable to members) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate)
  • S1028 – Allocates Amistad Commission in but not of DOE; requires commission to elect chairperson and appoint executive director; requires public schools to include instruction on accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to American society. (Monitor) (Passed in Senate)
  • S108 – Concerns speech rights of student journalists at public schools and public institutions of higher education. (Support) (Passed in Senate)
  • S1246 – Changes dates on which members of municipal and county committees of political party take office and hold annual meetings; transfers certain election responsibilities to county clerks. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate)
  • S1982 – Provides county clerks with additional week to mail ballots for 2020 primary election. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate)
  • S969 – Establishes loan redemption program for teachers in certain fields to redeem loan amounts received under New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students Loan Program through employment in certain low performing schools. (Support) (Passed in Senate)

When is the Legislature meeting again? (Remember the Senate hasn’t yet put out its calendar past March)

  • Tuesday, March 10               Senate Budget Hearing (public)
  • Thursday, March 12                Senate Budget Hearing (public)
  • Monday, March 16                 Assembly and Senate Committees
  • Wednesday, March 18            Assembly Budget Hearing (public)
  • Thursday, March 19                Assembly and Senate Committees
  • Wednesday, March 25            Assembly Budget Hearing (public)
  • Thursday, March 26                Assembly and Senate Voting Session
  • Monday, May 4                      Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, May 7                     Assembly Committees
  • Monday, May 11                    Assembly Committees at the call of the Speaker
  • Thursday, May 14                   Assembly Voting Session
  • Thursday, May 28                   Assembly Committees
  • Thursday, June 4                    Assembly Committees
  • Monday June 8,                      Assembly Committees at the call of the Speaker
  • Thursday, June 11                   Assembly Committees at the call of the Speaker
  • Monday, June 15                    Assembly Voting Session
  • Thursday, June 18                   Assembly Voting Session
  • Monday, June 22                    Assembly Voting Session
  • Thursday, June 25                   Assembly Voting Session


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