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Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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Trenton, New Jersey 08608

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6-26-09 Executive Director to GSCS Trustees; Wrap Up Report - State Budget and Assembly bills this week

To:  GSCS Trustees

Fr: Lynne, 6-26-09

Re: State Budget and Bills A4140, A4141, A4142, and A1489

Alate night it was, with the Senate not finishing until 2 a.m., the Assembly around 11 p.m. As you know the State Budget passed and the legislature went home. The State Legislature website still shows an Assembly Session scheduled for this Monday, but many were saying that would probably be cancelled. We will watch.

The later-developing good news for schools is: the $35M that the Governor and the Commissioner had said was going to be reduced in debt service aid to districts did not happen. GSCS was involved in seeing that the state did not make that choice, and reported last week that when the Appropriations Act was published that the $35M reduction was not in that bill. In the end, it remained out. Also, at the prompting of Senate Budget & Appropriations Chair Barbara Buono, $10M more was included for Extraordinary Aid for Special Education, bringing that final aid total up to $140M. When GSCS met with Senator Buono in mid-April, Extraordinary Special Education Aid was a main topic of discussion.

None of  the  ‘bad’ bills  (see bill numbers above, and www.gscschools.org for bills and GSCS of the bill issues) were posted – as we did hear in advance they would not be, from Bergen to Trenton where Joe Cryan swore to me on Wednesday that they wouldn’t be on the board list – but we had to Yogi Berra it and make sure it was ‘over.’ Thanks to those of you who communicated with legislators on these bills - it was decidedly helpful.

{FYI - here's a fun note that was received by GSCS VP Betsy Ginsburg from one of her community members who reached out to legislators in opposition to the bills/above/ this week. It demonstrates the power our website - nearly 1M hits now - can have: Betsy, FYI -- when I called ---- office, ----- himself answered the phone.  First he said that he did not know the status of the bills.  When I asked if he was the sponsor of bill #,  he said that he was and he said that he was "not sure if they were going to do that."  He said that he read comments on the internet and would take all of the comments (including mine -- which were short because he seemed like he heard it all before and he said he had to go because someone was in his office) into consideration.}  GSCS had posted its Monday, 6-22-09, testimony which included comments from our members on the website.

However, there was a floor amendment passed on A1489/the extracurricular fee bill. So far the amendment is not public and there was no discussion on it as far as I could tell on the floor. The bill sponsor, Assemblyman John Burzichelli from South Jersey/Paulsboro, is allowed by the process to do that. As soon as I get hold of it, I’ll forward it on.  At the committee meeting on Monday he noted that the bill needed work so the amendment may be his response. I think we have to assume that this means he remains serious about A14889 and is getting it ready for the fall. All these bills will need watching in the fall, especially in the lame duck session.

A4141/Whelan that clarifies the elimination process for non-operating districts did pass both houses – it is posted on our website. It will be on our July 15th agenda as parts of it are intended for use as a model for merging districts under that regionalization/consolidation effort of the DOE, as required by the legislature in A4.

Remember to check the GSCS website often, as it is kept current and keeps us all up to date on issues effecting GSCS membership.

Thanks for your time and efforts on behalf of GSCS, and have a wonderful summer if you are unable to be at the July 15 (9:30 a.m. at East Brunswick Board of Education) board meeting - Lynne.


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608

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