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June 25, 2014

Re:   State Budget Poised for Approval & Status of Other Legislation

Dear Mayor:

I. Respective Budget Committees Approve Proposed State Budget.   Final vote on Thursday

Late last night in Trenton, along strict party lines, the Assembly Budget Committee and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees released the State’s FY 2015 Appropriations Act (S-2015/A-3482). The Office of Legislative Services has posted the FY 2015 Budget “Score Sheet,” which provides a side-by-side comparison of revenues and appropriations included in the Governor’s proposed budget, with those spelled out in the proposed Appropriations Act.  (You can access the “Score Sheet” from the Legislature’s homepage at www.njleg.state.nj.us. At the center of the page, just below the small picture of the Capital Dome, click on the words, “Score Sheet.”)

As outlined in our letter of May 22 (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2014-0522-Budget.html), in order to close the State’s yawning gap between anticipated revenues and actual collections, Governor Christie will reduce State FY 2014 pension payments by $887 million. Among the spending adjustments to the Governor’s original budget proposal for FY 2015, the Administration has proposed a $1.57 billion reduction for pension payments.

The Legislature’s proposal relies on initiatives that would increase the income tax rate for earnings in excess of $1 million, increase the Corporate Tax rate and make other revenue adjustments. The increased revenues would be used to make the State’s pension payment and to fund other priorities. The Legislature’s proposal would also make changes to the Governor’s proposal that would: allow only municipalities (and not other local units) and extend the deadline to apply for Transitional Aid; eliminate “Best Practices” language that would have allowed the Division of Local Government Services to withhold property tax relief based on criteria “related to compliance with a statute, regulations or Executive Order …”; and eliminate the Governor’s proposal to impose the Urban Enterprise Zone sales tax on business-to-business transactions.

The Appropriations Act will likely be scheduled for Floor votes in both the Senate and the Assembly this Thursday. As we approach the Monday, June 30, Constitutional deadline, the Governor has frequently stated his intention to veto the Legislature’s tax proposal, meaning that negotiations over the final shape of the State’s next spending plan could continue over the weekend. Contact:  Jon Moran, 609-695-3481 x121, jmoran@njslom.com.

II. Interest Arbitration Cap Now Law

Yesterday Governor Christie signed A-3424, which caps interest arbitration awards at 2%, into law.    This initiative was the League’s top legislative priority for the first half of 2014.   Please see the League’s June 24 Dear Mayor  (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2014-0623-arb-extension-signed.html) for more information. Contacts:    Lori Buckelew, 609-695-3481 x112, lbuckelew@njslom.com or Mike Cerra, 609-695-3481 x120, mcerra@njslom.com

III. “Buy American” bill held by Assembly Committee

A-3059 was scheduled for consideration by the Assembly Budget Committee but later removed from the agenda.     The companion legislation, S-1811, previously passed the State Senate by a vote of 36-1.   While identical Senate and Assembly amendments did address many of the concerns raised the League, there are some remaining concerns including the very tight time restrictions in the waiver process.  Please see the League’s June 12 Dear Mayor letter (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2014-0612-Buy-American.html) for more information.   Contact: Lori Buckelew, 609-695-3481 x112, lbuckelew@njslom.com

IV. Police Camera Mandate

The League opposes A-2280/S-1305, which would require certain new or used municipal police vehicles to be equipped with mobile video recording systems. The bill also provides that a mobile device video recording systems worn or otherwise used by a police officer would qualify, in lieu of a device placed in a vehicle. In addition, the bill increases by $25 the surcharge imposed on persons convicted of driving while intoxicated, which would be used to offset the cost of equipping police vehicles with video recording systems, as required by this bill.

According to an Office of Legislative Services analysis, the new revenues will most likely, prove insufficient to fully fund the new mandate. This initiative has already passed in the Assembly. It could be voted on by the State Senate at any time. Please contact you State Senator as soon as possible, urging opposition to A-2280/S-1305.  Contact:  Jon Moran, 609-695-3481 x121, jmoran@njslom.com.

V. Release of Bidders List

The League  strongly opposes A-947, which would require municipalities, counties and local authorities to release the names, upon request, of all parties who have received bid documents prior to the bid opening once three or more bid packets have been obtained.   The bill passed the General Assembly by a vote of 59-16 on June 23.     It now is referenced to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, joining its companion S-2216. Please see the League’s June 18 letter (http://www.njslom.org/letters/2014-0618-leg-update.html) for more information.  Contact: Lori Buckelew, 609-695-3481 x112, lbuckelew@njslom.com

VI. Prohibition of Municipal Registration of Multi-Family Dwellings

The League opposes S-1972, which was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee  last week and can be scheduled for a Senate floor vote. This bill will preempt any municipal ordinance requiring registration for multi-family dwellings. The Assembly companion, A-474, is referenced to the Assembly Housing and Community Development committee.    For more, please see the League’s Dear Mayor letter of May 20 (www.njslom.org/letters/2014-0520-Legislative-Alert.html.) Contact: Mike Cerra, 609-695-3481 x120 or  mcerra@njslom.com .

VII. Non-Residential  Development Fee

The Assembly has approved A-1907, which would re-establish the moratorium on the imposition of fees on non-residential construction projects until the end of 2014.  The previous suspension expired on July 1, 2013 and the fee provision is currently in effect.  The bill would require reimbursement to developers of the fee provided that the collected money has not been expended.      The Senate companion, S-1011, is poised for a vote by the full Senate.    Contact: Mike Cerra, 609-695-3481x120 or  mcerra@njslom.com. .

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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