Gov. Phil Murphy signed the new fiscal year 2020 budget bill on June 30, averting a government shutdown with hours to spare.
The new budget will increase extraordinary special education funding by $50 million, bringing the state’s share of this cost to $250 million. NJSBA strongly advocated for greater extraordinary special education funding during the budget deliberation process.
The $50 million increase was added to the budget by the Legislature earlier this month. It makes progress toward full state funding of extraordinary special education costs, which was a proposal in the Legislature’s “Path to Progress” report. In recent years, districts have needed over $300 million to meet their extraordinary special education expenses. NJSBA encourages the state to continue working toward fully funding extraordinary special education costs.
School Funding The new budget will spend $38.7 billion, including $14.3 billion on education. Direct aid to school districts will be close to $8.7 billion, an increase of 2.8% from last year.
The package continues the scheduled aid increases to bring severely under-funded districts to their full entitlements under the School Funding Reform Act.
The Legislature’s Appropriations Act, approved earlier this month, allowed the Department of Education to provide emergency aid for school districts that will experience a reduction in funding this year, but the emergency relief was capped at $20 million. As signed by the governor, the budget will allow the emergency funding, but will eliminate the language that would have capped the amount. Such relief would be awarded at the discretion of the education commissioner on a case-by-case basis.
School districts’ direct state aid figures are unchanged from the totals originally announced in March, with the exception of Lakewood, which lost most of the special aid it would have received under the governor’s original budget.
Line-Item Cuts The governor used his line-item veto power to cut a total of $48.5 million from the budget approved by the Legislature. The cuts included the following education line-items:
- $38 million for grants to help foster shared services and school consolidation. (The Legislature’s budget would have appropriated $48 million for the grants.)
- $4 million in additional aid for the inter-district school choice program. The cut returns school choice aid to the $56.4 million amount originally proposed by the governor in March.
Photo of the governor at a June 30 press conference on the budget provided by Edwin Torres.