|3-11-09 CORZINE BUDGET ADDRESS: STATE FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS A LITTLE MORE NOT LESS - FEDERAL TITLE 1 & IDEA INCREASES YET TO BE COUNTED - STATE SCHOOL AID FIGURES ON DEPT OF ED WEBSITE 1:30 TODAY - RELATED ARTICLES, MORE...|
FOR DIRECT AID TO SCHOOLS INCREASES: Go to the link below here...on the plus side: $78M more for Extraordinary Aid costs in this year (FY0809), $52.3M for current preschool programs, $25M for preschool expansion incentives fo 'universal distsricts' and $151M in formula (wealth-equalization aid). In addition nearly $600 more in federal Title 1 and IDEA is anticipated on top of the state funding/information related to those federal dollars should be forthcoming soon. Here it the Budget Book link - http://www.state.nj.us/governor/home/budget10/graphs.html Fiscal Year 10 Budget Book (see pp.26-27) and related info. from NJ state website. Press of Atlantic City: New Jersey budget plan would increase aid to schools by $304.3 million
TRENTON - No school district will lose state aid, and some will get more state aid and expanded preschool funds...The proposed budget increases direct operating aid to school districts by $304.3 million to $8.8 billion. Add another $600 million over the next two years in federal stimulus aid for special education and disadvantaged students, and school districts are one of the few winners in the 2009-10 budget cycle...But until the aid is distributed to the districts by the state Department of Education today, and the federal aid is calculated, school officials are still very cautious... "We're just hoping for fairness and stability," said Lynne Strickland, of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents suburban districts. "This won't answer all of our problems, but it helps."
3-11-09 'New Jersey Gov. Corzine unveils draconian $29.8B budget'Statehouse Bureau- The Record & Star Ledger "...Corzine will use at least $75 million for preschool programs in nearly 80 poor districts that had been ineligible for the heavy state subsidies reserved for the poorest 31 districts. Wealthier districts that receive no increase in aid could be in line to receive hikes in other stimulus money reserved for poor children or special education. "There is a general sigh of relief from districts that they are not getting cut," said Lynn Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools..."
'Gov. Corzine makes smart budget moves' The Star-Ledger Editorial Board March 11, 2009 5:26AM
'LA school board approves big layoff notice' Assoc. Press LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles school board has voted to send notices of impending layoffs to more than 8,800 teachers and other employees..."
March 11, 2009 'School officials take wait-and-see stance' Courier-Post
NEW JERSEY: PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER MARCH 11, 2009
'Budget likely to up taxes'
http://www.state.nj.us/governor/home/budget10/graphs.html Fiscal Year 10 Budget Book (see pp.26-27) and related info. from NJ state website.
New Jersey budget plan would increase aid to schools by $304.3 million
By DIANE D'AMICO Education Writer, 609-272-7241
Published: Wednesday, March 11, 2009
TRENTON - No school district will lose state aid, and some will get more state aid and expanded preschool funds under Gov. Jon S. Corzine's proposed 2009-10 budget.
But the increased funding will come at the expense of the state Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund.
The proposed budget increases direct operating aid to school districts by $304.3 million to $8.8 billion. Add another $600 million over the next two years in federal stimulus aid for special education and disadvantaged students, and school districts are one of the few winners in the 2009-10 budget cycle.
But until the aid is distributed to the districts by the state Department of Education today, and the federal aid is calculated, school officials are still very cautious.
"The big question is how the local aid figures will work out," said Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association.
"We're just hoping for fairness and stability," said Lynne Strickland, of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents suburban districts. "This won't answer all of our problems, but it helps."
According to the budget summary, 171 of the state's nearly 600 districts will get as much as 5 percent in additional state aid. Affected districts are likely to be those now spending below adequacy limits under the new state aid formula.
The state will also increase aid to current preschool programs by $52.3 million and will add another $25 million in preschool incentive aid for districts that are required to expand to full-day preschool for all students.
Overall, Corzine cut state aid to education by $94 million for 2009-10. Increases in the direct aid to districts, teachers' Social Security and post-retirement medical funds were offset by a massive 80 percent cut of nearly $565 million in the state's contribution to the teachers' pension fund.
New Jersey Education Association spokesman Steve Baker said they anticipated the pension fund cut, and accept that tough choices had to be made this year.
"We are pleased education is still a top priority," he said.
All interviewed said the proposed funding is still a short-term fix, and does not address long-term issues such as preschool and special education costs and the pension fund.
E-mail Diane D'Amico:
Increase in the amount of operating state aid to school districts: $304.3 million
Number of districts that will get increased state aid for 2009-10: 171
Cut in the amount the state will pay into the teachers' pension fund: $564.7 million
Amount budgeted to expand preschool: $25 million
3-11-09 New Jersey Gov. Corzine unveils draconian $29.8B budget
By Clair Heninger and John Reitmeyer, Statehouse Bureau- The Record & Star Ledger
Gov. Jon Corzine wants New Jersey taxpayers to shell out more to support a $29.8 billion budget that will "put our state on a stronger footing for tomorrow" while shielding the most vulnerable from the troubled economy.
The governor wants to eliminate property tax rebates for all but the elderly and those making less than $75,000 per year. He wants to raises taxes on the rich and on employers. And he wants more from people who play the lottery, drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.
On property taxes, Corzine plans to do more than just slash the rebate program. He's seeking to eliminate a deduction that gives people a break on their state income taxes, offsetting the nation's highest property tax bills. There are also cuts in state aid to towns and counties, something that could lead to higher local levies.
The fiscal 2010 budget will include less money for the state employee pension system and will reduce state employee salaries through a wage freeze and unpaid furloughs. A wide range of state programs, departments and services will be cut.
All these choices are necessary amid "the unprecedented circumstances of our national economic crisis," Corzine said today in a 35-minute speech before a joint session of the state Legislature.
"Just like the choices that a family makes around the kitchen table about its spending, the decisions I have made in laying out this budget reflect a clear ranking of my priorities and core values," Corzine said in an address interrupted 17 times for applause.
To compensate, the budget emphasizes only education, senior services and programs such as charity care hospital funding that are relied upon by the "most vulnerable." New Jersey's $2 billion from federal stimulus aid will go to education and Medicaid needs, but Corzine needed to reverse himself on a spending reform measure put in place last year to use that money.
Aid for other programs, such as arts and humanities funding, tourism advertising and beach replenishment, will be cut.
Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) predicted legislators will make few changes to Corzine's spending plan.
"The only thing I think we should hope for (is) that it doesn't get any worse and we have to make more cuts before we pass it by July 1," Codey said.
Lawmakers must approve a balanced budget before July 1.
"I think there simply is not much money to work with this year so you will not see vast changes to this budget," said Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts (D-Camden).
Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said Corzine's budget is a wakeup call for the state.
"The positive and the negative is we're spending less money and people are going to see what less government really is," Sweeney said.
Republicans, however, questioned the tax increases, cuts in aid and the elimination of the property tax deduction.
"This budget will increase taxes, directly and indirectly, on the hardworking citizens of the state of New Jersey," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union).
New Jersey will become less appealing to businesses at a time when the state's unemployment is rising, said state Sen. Gerald Caridnale (R-Bergen).
"He's a very nice man, but he's unfortunately a true believer in economic policies that don't work," he said.
"At one point we were looking at a cut of almost 15 percent, so 2 percent is a whole lot easier to accept," said Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac, who served as the state treasurer under Gov. James E. McGreevey. "It will hurt, but it will force us to continue to work more efficiently and share services."
Hospitals will share the same $605 million pool of money to treat uninsured patients that it does this year, said Betsy Ryan, president and chief executive officer for the New Jersey Hospital Association.
"Obviously he had some very tough choices to make in this budget," she said. "We think making health care spending a priority makes sense because the number of uninsured is going up."
Advocates for people with developmental disabilities said they believed their constituents fared well in the proposed budget, although they had no dollars figures yet.
"The governor promised to protect the most vulnerable and although we don't have all the details yet, he seemed to keep his promise," said Tom Baffuto, executive director of the Arc of New Jersey.
School districts also expressed relief after learning the budget will increase the $8 billion that went to districts last year by about $300 million.
"This is really good news for the state of education in New Jersey," said Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.
Corzine will use at least $75 million for preschool programs in nearly 80 poor districts that had been ineligible for the heavy state subsidies reserved for the poorest 31 districts. Wealthier districts that receive no increase in aid could be in line to receive hikes in other stimulus money reserved for poor children or special education.
"There is a general sigh of relief from districts that they are not getting cut," said Lynn Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a group of about 100, largely suburban districts.
But state employee labor unions reacted strongly to the governor's wage freeze and furlough proposal, something that has been reported for weeks.
"We are going to develop our own proposals that prioritize jobs and protect collective bargaining and hopefully we're going to be meeting with him," said Bob Master, spokesman for the biggest state workers union, the Communications Workers of America Local 1034
"We need to have an honest discussion about whose doing the work and getting rid of all these political appointments," said Rae Roeder, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1033.
And business owners will fight Corzine on the payroll tax, said Philip Kirschner, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
"Frankly we can't think of anything worse to tax. It's the only tax that directly impacts the number of jobs you have and how much you pay people," Kirschner said.
Steve Chambers, Susan K. Livio and Chris Megerian contributed to this report.
Gov. Corzine makes smart budget moves
Posted by The Star-Ledger Editorial Board March 11, 2009 5:26AM
Categories: Policy Watch
There were no magic tricks in the budget plan Gov. Jon Corzine presented yesterday. No convoluted schemes to grab up-front cash from long-term revenue streams.
Now let the debate begin. Are there better ways to cut expenses? Are there ways to distribute the tax burden more fairly? And does Corzine's plan go far enough to reshape New Jersey government in line with the new economic reality?
LA school board approves big layoff notice
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles school board has voted to send notices of impending layoffs to more than 8,800 teachers and other employees.
The Board of Education for the nation's second-largest school district approved the action Tuesday after chanting teachers and some parents disrupted the meeting and forced it to be moved to a cafeteria.
The district has a $718 million budget shortfall.
The notices will go out by March 15 and the actual number to be laid off will be determined before July 1.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines says factors that will determine the actual number of layoffs will include the effectiveness of an early retirement incentive package and the amount of money the district may receive from the federal economic stimulus.
March 11, 2009
School officials take wait-and-see stance
Some South Jersey school officials gave high marks to Gov. Jon S. Corzine's budget address on Tuesday -- but others offered only an incomplete.
Representatives of local districts generally welcomed Corzine's call for an additional $300 million for K-12 education. But several said they'd delay any celebration until today, when individual aid figures are to be released.
"Of course I like to see $300 million additional as opposed to $300 million less, but I can't tell you what it means," said Emily Capella, superintendent of the Lenape Regional School District.
Another unknown is the impact of federal stimulus aid, noted Marie Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Mount Laurel school district.
"Everyone is of the same mind that federal aid that came down through the stimulus plan would supplant state aid," she said. "If that's not the case, that would be wonderful."
Corzine's speech contained no hint as to what's ahead for higher education, noted Robert Messina, president of Burlington County College.
"I anticipate some type of reduction but I am not sure of the exact percentage," said Messina, whose institution lost nearly 4 percent of its aid last year.
He said this likely will mean a tuition hike for the second straight year. Messina also noted the school has left some jobs vacant and is seeking ways to cut costs, including cross-training teachers and sharing staff with other schools.
Representatives of local districts said Corzine's spending plan could help with their own budgets.
"Maybe it'll save a job or two or some programs that may have gotten the ax, but we need to see the numbers," said Walter "Butch" Berglund, a school board member in Deptford.
But until more specifics are known, said Berglund, "We're planning our budget using last year's aid amounts as a worst-case scenario," Berglund said. "Anything else we get is a gift."
In that environment, Berglund noted, "No position is safe. No program is safe."
Mount Ephraim School Superintendent Joseph Rafferty expressed relief at Corzine's plan.
"With the way economics are today we weren't sure at all what was going to happen," he said. "Everyone is waiting . . . to make sure we can meet the numbers we need to for next year. It's a definite positive for us."
He also welcomed Corzine's call to reduce costs through shared services, calling that "really a wonderful idea."
Corzine's proposal also calls for an additional $25 million to expand preschool education for low-income children. That funding, if approved, would go to 22 districts in the tri-county region, including Bellmawr, Glassboro, Mount Holly, Pennsauken and Woodbury.
Staff writers Carol Comegno, Kristy Davies, Joseph Gidjunis, Jeremy Rosen, Barbara Rothschild and Bridget Smith contributed to this report. Reach Jim Walsh at (856) 486-2646 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Corzine lays out wrenching budget
TRENTON - In a somber budget address yesterday, Gov. Corzine returned several times to the image of a New Jersey family sitting around the kitchen table, pencils and calculators in hand, struggling to balance the household budget.
Just as families must make difficult choices about how to spend limited resources during a recession, Corzine said, the state also must make painful decisions.
"Tough times require that we make the right choices, and that we do the right thing for the common good," he said during a 35-minute speech before the Legislature. "By making the right decisions now, New Jersey can and will emerge from this national economic crisis stronger, sooner, and more prosperous."
Corzine proposed a $29.8 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, down from the $32.9 billion budget he signed last year and more than $1 billion less than the first budget he proposed, in March 2006.
The governor - a Democrat seeking reelection in November - is calling for state workers to accept furloughs and to give up a contracted 3.5 percent wage increase this year to avoid up to 7,000 layoffs.
He proposed raising taxes on liquor, wine, and cigarettes. And, for a year, he would raise by 0.75 percent the income tax of the 1 percent of New Jerseyans who earn more than $500,000.
Businesses would be hit with higher payroll taxes because the state's unemployment trust fund has dipped to a level that, by law, triggers an automatic tax increase. The increase is expected to cost businesses about $350 million, though the final figure won't be known until the end of the month.
Corzine proposed scaling back the popular property-tax rebate program for all but senior citizens, the disabled, and those earning less than $50,000, to save an estimated $517 million. Another proposal would mean that for one year, homeowners younger than 65 could not take a property-tax deduction on their income taxes, adding $400 million to state revenues.
Corzine tried to preserve funding for his top priorities: children, senior citizens, and protecting the most vulnerable in society. Direct aid to schools would grow by $300 million under Corzine's proposal, including $25 million to expand preschools. The budget also would maintain funding for food banks, charity care, and worker retraining.
Corzine said the state would address a $7.2 billion gap between revenue and projected spending, including increases mandated by statutes, contracts, and the courts, by reducing spending by more than $4 billion and raising taxes by $916 million.
An additional $2 billion will come to the state from the federal stimulus package, much of it directed toward education. Among the savings, Corzine has proposed depositing $895 million less into employee pension funds than the state intended to contribute in the current fiscal year, before mid-period budget adjustments resulted in trims.
The governor's address begins a months-long negotiation between his office and the Legislature, which must sign off on the budget. The state constitution requires a budget to be approved by July 1.
Fellow Democrats, who control both houses of the Legislature, rallied around the governor yesterday while Republicans, most of whom failed to clap even once during his speech, immediately attacked the proposal.
"From top to bottom, we need to make sure our limited funding is going where it is needed most. I think the governor did a good job of prioritizing," Senate President Richard J. Codey (D., Essex) said.
"Now we have to hope and pray that the economy does not continue to throw us more curveballs," Codey added.
Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr., of Camden County, said the budget proposed by Corzine would help position the state for economic recovery.
"You will not see vast changes to this budget," Roberts predicted. "The bottom line is going to be the bottom line. This is the toughest budget I have ever seen, and I think the governor deserves a lot of credit for saying we can only afford basics this year."
Republicans blamed Corzine for what they said was years of overspending. Higher taxes, they said, are not the answer.
"This is the wrong time to increase people's taxes in the state of New Jersey," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., of Union County. "People are hurting in this economy. . . . People are trying to keep living in this state."
Among the taxes Corzine proposed are an extension of a surcharge on the corporate business tax that was set to expire this year and a tax on lottery earnings above $10,000. The budget also would redirect $116 million from funds dedicated to specific purposes, such as the state disability benefit fund and motor-vehicle fees.
Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce said the budget represented a "total abandonment" of middle-income residents.
"This budget will dismantle what's left of the middle class in New Jersey," said DeCroce, of Morris County. "People are losing their jobs, their homes, and their savings, and all this budget does is guarantee them more pain."
Corzine, who is trailing in a number of polls behind Christopher J. Christie, the former U.S. attorney and a Republican contender for governor, did his best in the speech to make his case for a second term.
The former Goldman Sachs executive, elected in part for his apparent financial acumen, argued that under his leadership, New Jersey had improved education and expanded health care for children and families. Including the proposed budget, Corzine said, his administration will have provided nearly $7 billion in direct property-tax relief - more than any governor before him.
Corzine said he had made tough choices such as eliminating the pork-barrel spending known in New Jersey as "Christmas tree grants," paying more into state pension funds than the past several administrations combined, and no longer raiding the unemployment trust fund as an easy source of cash.
"I may not have always done what was popular in the moment," he said. "But you can be damn sure I have always done what I thought was right."
Around the country, most states are struggling to balance their budgets. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Rendell has proposed new or increased taxes on cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and natural-gas reserves and suggested allowing counties to increase sales taxes by up to 1 percentage point.
In New York, Gov. David Paterson has proposed 137 new or increased taxes and fees, on top of $9 billion in spending cuts.
Posted on Wed, Mar. 11, 2009
Phila Inquirer - Editorial: Corzine's Budget 3-11-09
Hard, fair numbers
Facing a $7 billion shortfall and what may be a tough reelection campaign, Gov. Corzine delivered some harsh but welcome budget reality yesterday in Trenton.
His proposed $29.8 billion budget is a responsible effort at protecting residents who are struggling the most in this economic crisis.
The spending plan for fiscal 2010 is about $3 billion less than the $32.9 billion budget adopted last summer. (Although he since has cut $2 billion from the current budget.)
It's the second year in a row that Corzine would cut the overall budget. It's about $1 billion less than the first budget he introduced in 2006. The economy, and past spending frenzies, left him with little choice.
That means some unpopular moves, including eliminating property-tax rebates for homeowners under age 65 who earn more than $75,000 annually. Corzine would again cut state aid to municipalities, which increases the likelihood of local property-tax hikes.
In all, more than 850 line-item programs would be trimmed.
State employees, who enjoy generous benefits, would take furloughs and relinquish a scheduled 3.5-percent raise. Otherwise, Corzine said, he'll need to lay off up to 7,000 workers. Under the circumstances, the givebacks are a necessary request that the unions should approve.
The proposed budget cuts total about $4 billion. Corzine is calling for tax increases of about $1 billion to close the budget gap. The rest of the shortfall, $2 billion, would be made up with federal stimulus aid.
Corzine would eliminate property-tax deductions for state income-tax filers for one year. He also would raise taxes on cigarettes, wine and liquor. Income taxes would rise by 0.75 percent, for one year only, on wages above $500,000. And employers would face a payroll-tax increase of about $90 per worker to replenish the state's unemployment insurance fund.
Budgets are moral documents, and on that front, Corzine's few proposed spending increases are commendable. He would increase K-12 classroom spending by $374 million. He'd preserve property-tax rebates averaging $700 for families earning less than $50,000 and for seniors. The budget would boost spending on children's health care, senior health programs, and home heating aid for seniors. Charity care for hospitals would be preserved.
Republican legislators and GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie immediately panned the proposed tax increases. But they weren't as forthcoming with suggestions on where to cut an additional $1 billion from the budget.
The GOP is correct that, while the economy is to blame for declining state revenues, New Jersey wouldn't be in such a deep budget hole if officials had controlled spending in previous years. Nine years ago, the state budget was only $25 billion.
Now, the state's debt has nearly doubled in less than a decade, and Corzine has retreated on his pledge to fully fund pension obligations. The governor did note that his administration has contributed more to the pension fund in the past three years than in the previous 15 years combined.
New Jerseyans probably don't care whether Corzine can win reelection on such a budget. But they should care that this proposal is a reasonable effort to put the state on the right fiscal course and help those hurting the most in tough economic times.
FEDERAL STIMULUS INFORMATION BREAKDOWN
> Title: DOC;National Telecommunications and Information Administration
> (NTIA); Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
> Description: $4.7 billion to establish a Broadband Technology
> Opportunities Program for awards to eligible entities to develop and
> expand broadband services to rural and underserved areas and improve
> access to broadband by public safety agencies.Of these funds, $250
> million will be available for innovative programs that encourage
> sustainable adoption of broadband services and at least $200 million
> will be available to upgrade technology and capacity at public computing
> centers, including community colleges and public libraries.
> Anticipated Funding Release Date: Unknown
> Link to Press Release: Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
> U.S. Department of Education
> Title: U.S. Department of Education (ED); Title I, Part A of the
> Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
> Description: $10 billion in additional FY 2009 Title I, Part A funds to
> LEAs for schools that have high concentrations of students from families
> that live in poverty in order to help improve teaching and learning for
> students most at risk of failing to meet state academic achievement
> Anticipated Funding Release Date: The Department plans to award 50% of
> each state's Title I, Part A recovery funds by the end of March 2009,
> and the second 50% between July 1, 2009 and September 30, 2009.
> Link to Full Announcement: Title I, Part A Recovery Funds for Grants to
> LEAs <http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/title-i.html>
> Title: ED; Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education
> Act (IDEA)
> Description: The IDEA recovery funds are provided under three
> authorities: $11.3 billion is available under Part B Grants to States;
> $400 million is available under Part B Preschool Grants; and $500
> million is available under Part C Grants for Infants and Families.
> Anticipated Funding Release Date: The Department of Education plans to
> award 50% of the IDEA, Part B Grants to States and Preschool Grants
> recovery funds to SEAs by the end of March 2009. The other 50% will be
> awarded by October 1, 2009.
> Link to Full Announcement: IDEA Recovery Funds for Services to Children
> and Youths with Disabilities
> Title: ED; State Fiscal Stabilization Fund
> Description: Governors will receive approximately $48.6 billion by
> formula under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) program in
> exchange for a commitment to advance essential education reforms to
> benefit students from early learning through post-secondary education,
> including: college- and career- ready standards and high-quality, valid
> and reliable assessments for all students; development and use of pre-K
> through post-secondary and career data systems; increasing teacher
> effectiveness and ensuring an equitable distribution of qualified
> teachers; and turning around the lowest-performing schools.
> Anticipated Funding Release Date: By the end of March, governors will be
> able to apply for 67% of the SFSF and discretionary SFSF, totaling $32.5
> billion. These funds will be released within two weeks after approvable
> applications are received.
> Link to Full Announcement: SFSF
> Title: ED; Race to the Top
> Description: This program helps states with bold plans to improve
> student achievement.
> Anticipated Funding Release Date: State grants will go out in two rounds
> over the next year, beginning in October 2009. Applications will be
> available later in the spring.
> Link to Full Announcement: Race to the Top
> Title: ED; Invest in What Works and Innovation
> Description: These awards will reward LEAs or nonprofit organizations
> that have made significant gains in closing achievement gaps to serve as
> models for best practices.
> Anticipated Funding Release Date: State grants will go out in two rounds
> over the next year, beginning in October 2009. Applications will be
> available later in the spring.
> Link to Full Announcement: Invest in What Works and Innovation
> Title: ED; Pell Grants and Work Study
> Description: The Department will make $17.3 billion available for Pell
> Grants and work-study funds.
> Anticipated Funding Release Date: The next academic year starting July
> 1, 2009
> Link to Full Announcement: Pell Grants and Work Study
Garden State Coalition of Schools