While the government shutdown is over, tensions are still being felt in Trenton. So, it’s not surprising that the Assembly Speaker isn’t too happy with several line item language changes the Governor made to the budget.
So What Changed In Ed?
Among the changes to budget bill that the Governor made were three items related to general education. These include:
- 1) A minor modification to the provision related to Emergency Funding for schools that had state aid taken away with passage of the budget (totaling $31million). As presented to the Governor, the bill would have allowed the State to charge interest on the loan received. The adopted budgetary language removes the interest provision;
- 2) Elimination of language that specified how many districts were to receive Preschool Education Expansion aid (17) as well as language that allowed priority status to those districts with ‘highest concentration of at-risk pupils.’ The revised language appears to allow the Commissioner wide latitude to decide who will qualify for the aid. discretion to decide. The governor’s office has stated to the press that this change was made so the state could “focus the money to districts that are actually ready to start up pre-schools”; and
- 3) The strike out of language related to left over revenue with in the Advanced Placement Exam Fee Waiver that would allow the Commissioner to provide grants to assist districts in establishing or expanding AP programs. The provision also established a priority framework for those districts with concentrations of at-risk students above 40 percent.
The adopted budget also eliminated language that would have conditioned State Board of Education funding on not moving forward with proposed fiscal accountability regulations for Private Schools for Students with Disabilities (State Board Gets Update On Achieve NJ, Has Discussion on SEL & Moves NJQSAC Proposal Forward At May Meeting, May 4, 2017)
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is accusing Gov. Chris Christie of violating his agreement to sign off on Democratic spending proposals in exchange for legislation to restructure Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
But the governor’s office says Christie did exactly what he promised to do and pushed back aggressively — and immediately — on the claims to the contrary. In exchange for the Horizon legislation, Christie had agreed to sign off on $325 million in Democratic spending priorities, including a boost to school funding and 72 other line items. The governor’s office says he did exactly what he said he would do — keep those measures in place while removing other items that were included in the budget.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney did not raise any concerns about the final budget. His office said the agreement the Democrats had with the governor “was to fund the 73 Democratic spending priorities in the Democratic budget plan,” and that’s what happened.