SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 119

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

 

     The Senate Education Committee favorably reports Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 119.

     This concurrent resolution establishes the State School Aid Funding Fairness Commission, which will consist of six public members appointed as follows: two members appointed by the Senate President, one of whom will represent a New Jersey teachers’ employee organization; one member appointed by the Senate Minority Leader; two members appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly, one of whom will represent a New Jersey education professional association; and one member appointed by the Minority Leader of the General Assembly.  The members must have knowledge and experience in public school finance and knowledge and experience in State budgeting and finance.  The commission will be staffed by the Office of Legislative Services. 

     The commission is charged with studying the following issues:

     (1) the impact of the adjustment aid and State aid growth limit provisions of the “School Funding Reform Act of 2008” (SFRA), P.L.2007, c.260 (C.18A:7F-43 et al.), on the fairness of the school funding formula, to make recommendations for revising those provisions in order to provide full funding of the “School Funding Reform Act of 2008” over a five-year period, and to bring fair and equitable funding to all school districts for enrollment growth over a multi-year period;

     (2)   the tax levy growth limitation as established and calculated pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2007, c.62 (C.18A:7F-38) and its impact on the ability of school districts to adequately fund operating expenses;

     (3)   the per pupil administrative costs limit as established pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection c. of section 5 of P.L.1996, c.138 (C.18A:7F-5) and the impact of the limit on school district staffing and operations;

     (4)   the equalized valuation and income measures used to determine a school district’s local share of its adequacy budget as calculated pursuant to section 10 of P.L.2007, c.260 (C.18A:7F-52), and the impact of property tax abatements on that local share; and

     (5)   the ability of a school district that is spending at or above its adequacy budget to lower its school tax levy in the event that additional State aid is provided under proposed legislation to implement the committee’s recommendations.

     The resolution stipulates that the recommendations made by the commission must comport with the Legislature’s responsibility under the State Constitution to provide a thorough and efficient education to all students. In addition, the resolution directs the commission to strive for consensus in all its recommendations.

     The commission must issue a report no later than June 30, 2017, on its findings and recommendations.  The report will be issued to the Governor, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the General Assembly and will be accompanied by proposed legislation to implement the recommendations.  The proposed legislation will be introduced in the Senate by the Senate President and in the General Assembly by the Speaker of the General Assembly.  The bill will not be referred to committee in either House, will receive second reading without committee consideration, and will then be placed on third reading.  The bill must either be approved on final passage or rejected, without changes or amendments.

     The commission will conduct at least three public hearings, one in the northern, central, and southern regions of the State, during the course of the commission’s study in order to elicit the testimony of interested groups and members of the public.  At least three additional public hearings, one in the northern, central, and southern regions of the State, will be held upon the issuance of the commission’s report to elicit testimony on its findings, recommendations, and proposed legislation.