Legislation that would provide relief to school districts that have experienced painful state aid reductions is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday, May 9. A-4161/S-3081 would restore a portion of the aid cuts districts would experience under the fiscal year 2025 state budget proposal. The bill would also provide property tax cap relief to these districts, as well as those that experienced a cumulative reduction in state aid in recent years.

The bill passed the full General Assembly last month,  and if it receives committee approval on Thursday, it could be scheduled for a vote by the full Senate as early as Monday, May 13.

The New Jersey School Boards Association encourages all of its members to contact their state senators, as well as the members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, and urge them to pass this legislation. This measure is critical to ensuring all districts can continue providing a high-quality education to students while avoiding cuts to critical staff and services.

Members should call or email their representatives in Trenton to express their strong support for the bill. Contact information for your legislators can be found on the New Jersey Legislature’s website here, and the roster for the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee can be found here.

Now is the time to make your voice heard.

What’s in the Bill?

The following summarizes the key provisions of the bill as passed by the General Assembly. However, please note that amendments could be made to the bill in committee on Thursday.

Aid Grants The legislation establishes the “Stabilized School Budget Aid Grant Program.” Funded with a state appropriation of over $71 million, this program would allow any district experiencing aid loss in fiscal year 2025 to apply to the state for an aid grant equal to two-thirds of the amount of the district’s proposed school aid reduction. These districts would also be able to recoup the remaining one-third of their state aid losses by exceeding the maximum amount permitted under the statutory tax levy cap law without the need to obtain voter approval. (However, such an increase would be limited to no more than 9.9% of the prior year levy.)

Tax Cap Flexibility The bill also provides tax cap relief around the so-called “2% cap” that limits the ability of districts to raise funds at the local level to support their schools. This relief would be available to districts that experienced an overall reduction in state aid between the 2020-2021 school year and now. It does so in the following two ways:

  1. Districts Receiving Aid Grants If the district received an aid grant under the Stabilized School Budget Aid Grant Program, the permitted increase would be capped at the amount of the school district’s net reduction from 2020-2021 through 2023-2024 (the current and three prior fiscal years).
  2. Districts Not Receiving Aid Grants Districts not receiving an aid grant would similarly be eligible for tax cap flexibility. However, these districts would be able to increase their levy beyond the maximum permissible amount up to the overall reduction between fiscal year 2021 and fiscal year 2025 (the prior four fiscal years and the fiscal year beginning July 1).

The full text of the current version of the legislation and a comprehensive summary can be found here.

The NJSBA continues to emphasize how important it is to make your voice heard on this legislation, which could provide a substantial level of relief to school districts facing cuts under the proposed budget. Contact your state senators as soon as possible and urge them to pass this bill.

Thank you in advance for your support!