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Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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2-26-13 Limited Grants for Sandy Schools...State Budget Message Today...Abbott v Burke Issues Discussed
The Record - N.J. offers schools post-Sandy disaster grants - 'New Jersey school districts that were severely affected by superstorm Sandy can apply for a share of a $1.25 million federal grant for recovery, state officials announced Monday...The money, to be awarded in April, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence.'

Star Ledger - Gov. Christie to unveil budget plan for post-Sandy N.J.

NJ Spotlight - School-Funding Issues Remain at Forefront 40 Years after Landmark Decision "...Speaking to about 20 people gathered at Rutgers Law School were Paul Tractenberg, founding director of the Newark-based Education Law Center, which has led the school-funding litigation for more than 40 years, and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, who served 10 years on the state’s top court and wrote two of the Abbott case’s 21 opinions to date..."

The Record - N.J. offers schools post-Sandy disaster grants - NorthJersey.com

By Leslie Brody

New Jersey school districts that were severely affected by superstorm Sandy can apply for a share of a $1.25 million federal grant for recovery, state officials announced Monday.

In North Jersey, only the Little Ferry and Moonachie districts are eligible for shares of the grant, which could go toward certain storm-related expenses, such as overtime for teachers, counseling, emergency transportation and temporary security measures.

Moonachie Superintendent Jill Mortimer said she would likely apply for reimbursement for the cost of busing children to schools in Wood-Ridge. “This sounds like a very nice opportunity,” she said.

School officials in Little Ferry said they would likely apply to be reimbursed for overtime.

Most of the eligible districts are in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

The money, to be awarded in April, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence.

North Jersey Media Group Inc.

N.J. offers schools post-Sandy disaster grants - NorthJersey.com

NorthJersey.com

New Jersey school districts that were severely affected by superstorm Sandy can apply for a share of a $1.25 million federal grant for recovery, state officials announced Monday.

In North Jersey, only the Little Ferry and Moonachie districts are eligible for shares of the grant, which could go toward certain storm-related expenses, such as overtime for teachers, counseling, emergency transportation and temporary security measures.

Moonachie Superintendent Jill Mortimer said she would likely apply for reimbursement for the cost of busing children to schools in Wood-Ridge. “This sounds like a very nice opportunity,” she said.

School officials in Little Ferry said they would likely apply to be reimbursed for overtime.

Most of the eligible districts are in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

The money, to be awarded in April, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence.

Star Ledger - Gov. Christie to unveil budget plan for post-Sandy N.J.

By Star-Ledger StaffThe Star-Ledger
on February 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM, updated February 26, 2013 at 7:57 AM

By Salvador Rizzo and Susan K. Livio/The Star-Ledger

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie will release his new budget today in a Statehouse speech that is expected to tackle one of the biggest questions in New Jersey: where to find the money for a massive rebuilding effort in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Although the federal government approved a $60 billion aid package for New Jersey and other states, state lawmakers and budget experts say Trenton could still be on the hook for some of the costs.

Adding to the uncertainty, the latest fiscal stalemate in Washington — the "sequester" talks — could threaten hundreds of millions in federal funds for New Jersey if there’s no agreement by Friday.

Any unexpected costs would further strain a state budget Christie has wrestled with as expenses grow from all corners, including school funding, health coverage and infrastructure needs.

State Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) said Christie can expect bipartisan support on Sandy matters, but the rest of the budget would be business as usual.

"There are two components: What the state budget is and what the federal funding will be as far as Sandy," Sarlo said. "Clearly the money that’s coming from the federal government is not for budgetary purposes."

Christie and his aides have been guarding the budget details closely for weeks. Lawmakers said they would be briefed this morning, just hours before the speech.

For Christie, the annual budget address is the first salvo in his yearly battle with the Democratic-controlled Legislature over which programs to fund and how to pay. It takes on added meaning this election year for Christie and all 120 lawmakers.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican budget officer from hard-hit Monmouth County, agreed Christie can expect patience and cooperation on some Sandy moves such as installing independent monitors to oversee how billions in federal funds are spent.

"We had several months where economic activity was severely hampered by the storm, and we have to wait and see how it’s going to balance out," O’Scanlon said. "That’s something I know the administration is focusing on."

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Outside of Sandy, Christie faces other tough political choices:

• How to close a budget gap that reached $473 million last month. There’s little room to cut corners because Wall Street warns an unsound budget could trigger a downgrade of the state credit rating.

• The state is scheduled to contribute nearly $1.7 billion to its pension fund, and $375 million for Christie’s transportation capital plan this year. He postponed such plans before when cash ran out.

• He’s expected to announce whether he’ll expand the state Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act. A critic of the federal law, he could save up to $300 million in the coming budget if he expands the program and lets Washington absorb the cost.

"What’s at stake are billions of dollars of federal money, tens of thousands of New Jerseyans who need affordable health care and long-term savings to the state," said Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Senate health committee.

If Christie declines, Vitale said, "shock and awe will be the response — shocked he didn’t do it and awestruck that he is that much of a nincompoop."

Bill Holland of the group Better Choices for New Jersey, a coalition of liberal and minority advocacy groups, said Monday Christie should focus on job creation. The state’s unemployment rate of 9.6 percent was the fourth-highest in the country in December.

"For the last three years Governor Christie has relied exclusively on tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy, and only has New Jersey’s jobs crisis to show for it," Holland said.

Last year, the budget debate centered on a 10 percent income-tax cut Christie wanted but Democrats said the state economy was too weak to handle it. He signed a $31.7 billion spending plan without the cut.

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NJ Spotlight - School-Funding Issues Remain at Forefront 40 Years after Landmark Decision…Two key figures agree budget address today may set stage for yet another court ruling on aid for needier Abbott districts

By John Mooney, February 26, 2013 in Education|1 Comment

On the eve of Gov. Chris Christie’s budget address, a far smaller crowd than the one expected in the Statehouse today came to Newark last night to hear two key figures involved in the landmark Abbott v. Burke rulings on equitable school funding. .

Related Links

Speaking to about 20 people gathered at Rutgers Law School were Paul Tractenberg, founding director of the Newark-based Education Law Center, which has led the school-funding litigation for more than 40 years, and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, who served 10 years on the state’s top court and wrote two of the Abbott case’s 21 opinions to date.

Both gave detailed history lessons on the case, which started in the 1970s, stemming from a previous school-funding case -- Robinson v. Cahill -- that ultimately led to New Jersey’s income tax.

Tractenberg argued those first Robinson cases before the high court. Poritz wrote two of the opinions, and acted on several others during her term from 1996 to 2006.

"They weren't all opinions, but they do take time," Poritz said. "Abbott was a constant issue for us."

The most provocative discussion came as they both talked later about where the case was headed next, several times invoking the possibility of a 22nd Abbott decision from the court, depending on Christie’s budget message today.

“It’s still too early to tell,” said Poritz. “A lot will depend on what the governor says in his budget.”

The flashpoint has been over whether Christie will meet the letter of the court’s last Abbott decision, in 2009, which upheld full funding of the state’s School Funding Reform Act for at least the neediest districts, or whether the governor will seek to change some of the extra funding “weights” afforded at-risk students.

The Democratic-led Legislature has balked at those changes so far, although how far it would go to fight them if kept in the state budget is yet to be seen. The ELC has put the Christie administration on notice that it will challenge any changes in that funding formula.

“Will Christie adopt the changed weights, even though the Legislature has rejected them?” Tractenberg asked in what sounded almost like a dare.

“The situation continues what has become almost an unusual alignment of the players of late,” he said. “Now we have in maybe Abbott XXII, the law center saying they are on the side of the Legislature, and only it’s the governor who is the renegade.”

Afterward, Poritz was hesitant to speculate about what a 22nd Abbott decision might look like, but she noted that the court has consistently shown support for children in theAbbott school districts, with little evidence of what a questioner termed “Abbott fatigue.”

This came from a former justice who is a registered Republican and was appointed by former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, the last Republican elected governor before Christie.

“You could always see in the court an empathy for the children,” Poritz said in an interview after the two-hour session.

“Just the notion that we have these generations after generations of children, and while we spend all this time on the litigation, we keep losing them,” she said. “Whether Abbott fatigue or not, that will keep the court caring.”

“Yes, there are laws and legal principles,” Poritz said. “But there are real lives there, and the court cares about that.”

Still, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t seen some merit in the Christie administration’s approach on putting more emphasis on student achievement measures and less on resources and programs.

“I think there has been a genuine interest there in finding some better ways,” she said. “We’ll see what he has to say on that tomorrow.”

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828



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