Following the governor’s new Aug. 25 budget proposal, the Legislature now turns its attention to enacting a state budget by Oct. 1. Normally the budget process would proceed over a four-month period (March through June). In fact, the legislative budget committees were in the process of receiving testimony on the original Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal when the state shut down due to COVID-19.
However, several changes to the budget process have been made for this year due to the pandemic. These changes included extending FY2020 an additional three months and setting a new nine–month FY2021 to begin Oct. 1. As a result, the budget approval process has been truncated to one month.
Public Testimony Process Another change to the process is the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees will only be receiving public testimony in writing with a deadline of Sept. 11. Both committees are receiving written testimony via email at LBFO@njleg.org. Alternately, committees will receive testimony through regular mail at the addresses below:
C/O Legislative Budget and Finance Office
Office of Legislative Services
P.O. Box 068 Trenton NJ 08625-0068
Correspondence should be addressed to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee. Although both committees are using the same address, it may be best to send two copies total; one each addressed to each committee.
At press time there was not a specific time announced for when on Sept. 11 emails needed to be received. Nor did the instructions concerning regular mail address when such submissions needed to be postmarked. The instructions only state the committees are “accepting testimony…through Friday, September 11, 2020.”
Per usual, the hearings will begin with budget overviews from the New Jersey State Treasurer and the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Service (OLS). This testimony is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 for the Senate Budget Committee and 10 a.m. on Sept. 9 for the Assembly Budget Committee. This will be followed by the commissioners and other various heads of state government departments testifying before the committees to discuss their particular department’s proposed budgets. The treasurer, department heads and OLS will testify in person. Each agency head who has been invited to testify will only appear before one of the budget committees, rather than both, as is traditionally the case.
Interim Commissioner of Education Kevin Dehmer is scheduled to come before the Senate Budget Committee at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 10. The public may view the committees’ hearings online at https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/.
On Aug. 25, the governor announced a new proposed budget for FY 2021. Coverage of that announcement can be found in the Aug. 25 edition of School Board Notes. The Legislature now has until Oct. 1 to enact a state budget for the governor’s signature.