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Joined by Over 30 Parents, Superintendents, and School Officials United in Renewed Call for Fair Share of State School Aid and School Funding Reform
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) continued the fight for a fair share of state school aid for massively underfunded school districts at today’s public budget hearing held by the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee in Newark.
Beck was joined by Freehold Borough Superintendent Dr. Rocco Tomazic, Freehold Borough Councilwoman Sharon Shutzer, Freehold Borough Education Foundation President Jean Holtz, as well as Red Bank Borough Superintendent Dr. Jared Rumage, Red Bank Board of Education President Dr. Fred Stone, and numerous parents from those districts.
“We have over 100 underfunded school districts that have seen significant enrollment growth without a corresponding state school aid increase, leading to substantial educational challenges.” Beck said “At the same time, approximately 200 school districts that are more than 10 percent above the funding standard continue to receive more state aid despite enrollment loss. This school funding disparity is a critical issue that the Legislature must address to protect both students and property taxpayers.”
Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-Union, Somerset) to fund upgrades and improvements at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities.
The law, S-2897, appropriates the remaining $34.3 million from the “Building Our Future Bond Act,” voter-approved legislation sponsored by Senator Kean to fund capital improvement projects at public institutions of higher education statewide.
“More and more high school grads are choosing to pursue a career in STEM-related fields, such as nursing or engineering. They shouldn’t have to travel out of state to study at a school with a state-of-the art research facility or lab,” Senator Kean said. “This appropriation will help our top-notch colleges and universities evolve to meet the needs of incoming students.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) to expand opportunities for new hard cider and mead producers by creating a new license under the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control was passed by the New Jersey Senate.
“Craft beverage aficionados always have an eye out for the best local products,” Senator Oroho said. “New Jersey is already home to dozens of breweries and wineries, and this measure could give consumers even more to choose from while providing a huge boost to the state’s economy at the same time.”
The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman to appropriate $59.532 million from constitutionally dedicated funds for open space, park development, and expansions to the Blue Acres and Green Acres programs.
“New Jersey voters overwhelmingly supported the constitutional amendment I sponsored to create a permanent funding source for open space,” Senator Bateman (R-16) said. “The appropriation approved by the Senate today will secure our hard-won victory to save Princeton Battlefield, conserve clean water and protect the farms that fuel our economy. These are exactly the kinds of projects that our residents had in mind when they voted yes in 2014.”
Fenwick Sponsored State Law Prohibiting Sex-Based Discrimination, Was Called “Conscience of Congress” by Walter Cronkite
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) introduced and the Senate approved a resolution (SR-112) honoring the life and work of the late Millicent Fenwick, a Republican woman who fought for women’s pay equity and civil rights in both the New Jersey Legislature and the United States Congress.
“Millicent Fenwick was a life-long fighter for civil rights, not just for women, but for anyone who was not being treated equally under the law,” said Beck. “As a freshman Assemblywoman, Millicent Fenwick’s first piece of legislation outlawed wage discrimination. Today, women across the nation owe her a debt of gratitude for leading this civil rights fight. As a result of her efforts, New Jersey now has one of the most rigorous, progressive and aggressive wage discrimination statutes in the nation.”
Fenwick was one of just two women serving in the New Jersey Legislature, both Republicans, when she entered the General Assembly in 1970. The first bill she sponsored, A-403 of the 1970-71 legislative session, outlawed gender-based wage discrimination by adding “sex” as a protected status to New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). That bill quickly passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Governor William T. Cahill (R) on June 2, 1970 (P.L. 1970, c. 80).
The New Jersey Senate has approved a pair of transportation-related bills sponsored by Senator Steven Oroho (R-24) that are designed to reduced the burden on property taxpayers and improve road, bridge and rail safety.
The first bill, S-3076, appropriates $400 million from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), including $260 million for immediate road and bridge repairs across the state and $140 million for technology and safety improvements at New Jersey Transit.
“We’re now able to shift much more of the burden of paying for local transportation improvements from property taxpayers to the State,” said Oroho. “That’s the direct result of our successful efforts last year that coupled targeted tax cuts with a plan to take the TTF out of bankruptcy. Local officials can now undertake critical road and bridge repair projects without burdening property taxpayers with the full cost.”
Senate Democrats Block Three Attempts by Kyrillos, Doherty & Beck to Move Bills Limiting Local Sick Leave Payouts to Protect Property Taxpayers
Measures Would Stop Six-Figure Payouts for Unused Sick Time to Retiring Local Government Employees
Three separate efforts by Senate Republicans to protect property taxpayers by moving bills they sponsor addressing the absurd six-figure sick leave payouts that some local government employees receive when they retire were blocked by Senate Democrats during today’s session of the New Jersey Senate.
Motions were made by Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13) on S-194, Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) on S-572, and Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) on S-2140 to bring the bills to the floor of the Senate for consideration. Senate Democrats blocked each of those efforts.
The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Senate Republicans Diane Allen and Dawn Addiego to correct a flawed statute that prohibits the Department of Children and Families (DCF) from informing a religious institution that substantiated allegations of child abuse have been made against an employee or volunteer.
S-2637 stems from a New Jersey Superior Court Appellate decision regarding a man who was able to apply for a job as a youth pastor, despite having been found by DCF to have sexually abused and neglected his two children, as well as their 10-year-old cousin.
“Right now, a person who is fired from a day care center because of a failed child abuse record check can turn right back around and volunteer to teach Sunday school, and there’s nothing DCF or the courts can do about it. Their hands are tied by the law,” Senator Allen said. “The children in that church classroom are no less deserving of the law’s protection. One example is too many. We have to correct this injustice now.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-Ocean) and Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) to protect pets against cruel treatment by their owners was passed by the New Jersey Senate.
“You would hope that pet owners would treat their animals with decency and provide them with a safe and healthy home environment, but sadly, that isn’t always the case,” Senator Holzapfel said. “We must protect these animals and show that this kind of treatment will not be tolerated.”
The New Jersey Senate has passed two bills sponsored by Senator Robert Singer to support incoming New Jersey college students.
The first bill, S-991, would replace the NJ STARS and NJ STARS II State-funded scholarship programs with the New Jersey Scholarship Honors Program. Currently, NJ STARS II scholarships are only available to students who graduate from a county college with at least a 3.25 GPA. The new program created by S-991 would extend the scholarship award to high school students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class who wish to attend a four-year in-state college. The bill was amended to include students who attend private colleges. Eligible students would receive an award of $4,000 per year.
“Our goal with this legislation is to encourage New Jersey’s best and brightest to pursue a high-quality college education,” Senator Singer Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) said. “A high school student who graduates in the top 10 percent of their class has demonstrated that they can succeed at any college of their choice – public or private; four-year or two-year. They should be able to take advantage of that hard-earned opportunity.”