The following NJSBA-tracked bills were released from committees on Monday, Aug. 10:
Senate Labor Committee
Tax Credits for Apprenticeships S-1159 provides businesses with a credit against the corporation business tax or the gross income tax for each employee working in an apprenticeship registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. NJSBA supports the bill.
Tuition Waivers for Apprenticeships S-1158 requires public institutions of higher education to waive the tuition fees of certain courses which are qualified to serve as the classroom training or education component of a registered apprenticeship for eligible persons whose gross aggregate household income is below the state’s median annual income. NJSBA supports the bill.
Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee
STEM Opportunities for Young Women & Minorities A-1625 directs the NJ Department of Education to develop and administer an outreach program to encourage young women and minorities to pursue post-secondary degrees and careers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field. NJSBA supports the bill.
Assembly Education Committee
The following bill was held by the committee without a vote.
Allowing Special Ed & Bilingual Students to Repeat a Grade A-4357 would permit special education students and bilingual education students to repeat a prior-year grade level during the 2020-2021 school year upon parental request. NJSBA raised significant concerns about the bill. First, the bill was unclear as to whether students who had already graduated or were over 21 years of age could take advantage of the provisions of the bill. Second, the bill was not clear regarding how its remedy of repeating a year would fit in with the federal requirement that required individualized education plans for each student. Third, the bill raised several concerns regarding whether there were sufficient funds to pay to have students repeating grades, whether this was an efficient use of limited special education dollars, and whether the bill’s requirements amounted to an unfunded mandate. Finally, NJSBA raised concerns about whether such legislation exacerbated the funding dichotomy between general and special education students. The bill was held by the Assembly Education Committee, and no vote was taken.
Miscellaneous Revenue/4% Surplus A4310, unanimously approved by the Assembly Education Committee, would require the Division of Local Government (DLG) services to approve local unit budgets with excess anticipated miscellaneous revenue due to COVID-19, and it also authorizes school districts to maintain a surplus at 4% for the 2020-2021 school year. Under the legislation, if the DLG determines the anticipated excess revenue can be attributed to the financial impact of COVID-19, and the anticipated revenue projections are in accordance with the guidelines established by the division, the division must approve the application. Additionally, for the 2020-2021 school year, A4310 would allow a district to maintain a surplus of up to 4%. Under current law, a school district, other than a county vocational school district, may only maintain a surplus of 2%. The bill also provides that for this upcoming school year, the transfer of surplus funds between line items and program categories will not need New Jersey Department of Education approval.
Helping Schools Purchase COVID-Related Services The Assembly Education Committee on Aug. 10 approved A4461 which would help districts acquire COVID-19-related goods and services, such as personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies. Under the legislation, the state may award contracts to more than one bidder to fill the demand for supplies. School districts throughout the state would then be permitted to purchase goods and services under the contract. The education commissioner would be required to coordinate the purchase of goods and services by the school districts. NJSBA supports the bill.