New Jersey State Budget and Superintendent Salary Caps
It’s June – we are in New Jersey – and it is budget season.
New Jersey’s elected state representatives have created an environment of unpredictable budget experiences during the past few years during the month of June. New Jersey is required by our state constitution to adopt a balanced budget for the succeeding fiscal year by July 1. Hence, the NJ Fiscal 2020 Budget is now front and center. If there is no balanced budget in place, the routine business of state government services will cease until the balanced budget is approved and signed by the Governor. Last year, Governor Phil Murphy and lawmakers reached an 11th-hour compromise to avoid such a shutdown.
As of On Target’s press time, strong indications from Trenton are pointing in the direction of another government shutdown. On June 17, the New Jersey Legislature advanced its budget plan that that does not include some of the Governor’s priorities as presented on March 5 in his Fiscal Year 2020 Budget: A Blueprint for the Middle Class. Most notably, the legislative version does not include Governor Murphy’s proposed millionaire’s tax which he connected to a $250 million increase in property tax relief. The legislative version does, however, include an additional $50 million to districts to offset extraordinary special education costs, a key NJASA lobbying point. This is hopefully the first installment of four equal payments during the years ahead supported by Senate President Steve Sweeney to meet the state’s obligation to pay the extra costs for student services where the cost exceeds $55,000 per year.
There are many issues and moving parts in the budget negotiation and the media has highlighted them during the budget debate. The most notable factor is the strong disagreement on key components in the path forward for New Jersey and its residents. Several of the positions taken by Governor Phil Murphy are opposed by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. With fewer than two weeks to the July 1 budget adoption deadline, residents will be watching closely to see where concessions are made by the key players to secure the next state budget.
A positive note to report during this volatile political time is the scheduled action by the Assembly on June 20 to prohibit the NJ Commissioner of Education from establishing salary maximums for superintendents of schools. If approved, the bill will require Senate concurrence on amendments that codify the standards adopted by the Commissioner of Education under N.J.A.C. 6A:23-3.1 for the approval of the employment contracts of superintendents, assistant superintendents, and school business administrators by the executive county superintendent of schools. Kudos to NJASA members for all your efforts and responses to the Association’s recent Calls to Actions. Your actions were instrumental in advancing the legislation before the Assembly Education Committee and the Committee’s unanimous release of the bill on June 10.
NJASA will keep you apprised of what the final adopted budget means for districts and their communities. In the interim, please reach out to your local legislators and to the Governor’s office to support the proposal to increase aid to districts to offset extraordinary special education costs.