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On Monday in Trenton, both the Assembly Appropriations Committee (A-5000)  and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee (S-18)  released identical versions of an Appropriations Act, meant to govern State spending during the 2018 Fiscal Year (SFY ’18), which begins on July 1. The bills would further reduce Transitional Aid by $6 million. The Governor, in March, had proposed allocating $93 million for this purpose. The bill, which is scheduled for votes in both Houses on Thursday, calls for $87 million.

According to the Legislature’s current proposal, the Department of Community Affairs’ total budget for SFY ’18 would increase by a little less than $10 million, over the Governor’s March proposal. New priorities to be funded by that increase (as well as by the $6 million Transition Aid reduction) include: a County Prosecutors Funding Initiative Pilot Program ($4 million); an Anti-Violence Youth Out of School Summer Program ($3 million); the Volunteers of America Re-entry Services program ($4 million); the New Jersey Re-entry Corporation’s One-Stop Offender Re-entry Services program ($4 million); and other, smaller dedications. (See the Office of Legislative Services Budget Score Sheet for comparisons.)

With regards to the “Best Practices” inventory, please note the following. Prior to last year, the Director of the Division of Local Government Services was authorized to penalize non-compliant municipalities by denying them up to 5 percent of their total Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid (CMPTRA) entitlement. Last year, using the line-item veto, the Governor changed that practice by adding language to the budget stating, “Notwithstanding the provisions of any law or regulation to the contrary, the release of the total annual amount due for the current fiscal year from Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid to municipalities, is subject to (receiving a minimum acceptable score on the inventory) …” (Parenthesis added.)  That language is included in the proposal going before both Houses on Thursday.

The proposal put together by the Legislature would distribute CMPTRA and Energy Tax Receipts payments according to the schedule that has been in place for several years now. (45 percent on August 1, 30 percent on September 1, 15 percent on October 1, 5 percent on November 1, and the final 5 percent on December 1 for calendar year municipalities or June 1 for those on the fiscal year.) The Governor’s proposal had called for pushing greater percentages to later dates. (See the Legislature’s proposed Language Changes for details.)

Significantly, the bills to be voted on this week include changes in School Aid distributions and the Governor’s proposed use of proceeds from the State Lottery to address the State’s recurring pension funding shortfalls.

Contact: Jon Moran, Sr. Legislative Analyst, jmora@njslom.org, 609-695-3481 x121.