On Wednesday, April 1, the governor and legislative leaders announced plans to extend the Fiscal Year 2020 budget an additional three months, to Sept. 30. This will give the state more time to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on New Jersey’s economy.

As for July through September of this year, lawmakers intend to pass legislation continuing funding at current levels for an additional three months. They also plan to extend the tax filing deadline three months, from April 15 to July 15.

At this point, there are numerous unanswered questions. NJSBA believes that there will be enabling legislation introduced to extend the budget and the state income tax filing deadline. When the bills are formally introduced and available for review, the NJSBA expects that many of the outstanding questions will be answered.

Since there is no precedent for these actions, it isn’t clear yet what all the permutations or effects might be. There has been no guidance from the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) regarding the possible effects of delaying the FY 2021 budget, nor has there been any pronouncement from the New Jersey Department of the Treasury about changes in revenue projections. Will school aid figures be affected? To date, the Murphy administration has been silent on that issue.

Both the Senate and Assembly have voting sessions scheduled for Monday, April 13. As of School Board Notes transmission, April 8,  the agendas have not been posted.

NJSBA is monitoring this historic and rapidly evolving situation and will keep members informed of developments as they occur.

Delaying Tax Payments to School Districts  A-3902  NJSBA continues to work on issues with A-3902, which would grant municipalities certain flexibilities during a state of emergency.

The leading education groups in the state are united in their opposition to the bill that was unanimously approved by the Assembly and sent a letter to the executive director of the state Senate majority office on April 3.

School Board Notes first reported on concerns with the legislation in its March 31 issue. The bill was  introduced on March 23 and unanimously approved by the state Assembly two days later with little debate.

In its current form, the bill would allow municipalities to delay tax collection and correspondingly, delay payments to school districts during an emergency. Although states of emergencies can present unique problems, NJSBA believes there are better solutions to be considered during the pandemic.

As a member of the Leaders in Education Excellence (LEE) Group, the NJSBA has been corresponding with the Senate to present other options. The NJSBA believes that the municipal governing body, and not the school district, should issue short term notes to offset the deferred tax revenue and make the local school district whole and held harmless from any loss of cash flow.  Further, a mechanism should be in place for the immediate termination of the provisions of this bill once the state of emergency has ceased.

The NJSBA’s proposed solutions have been sent to the Senate where it is hoped that they receive the  consideration they deserve.

During this fluid and evolving situation, the NJSBA has made common-sense suggestions in collaboration with other leading education groups, and online School Board Notes and the Association’s homepage, www.njsba.org, will continue to keep members informed as the process unfolds.