Joseph Tempesta, Jr. (Mayor, West Caldwell)
As required by the State Constitution, Governor Christie signed into law a balanced budget for the Fiscal Year that began July 1, 2016 and will conclude immediately after June 30, 2017. The Governor’s Office noted in a Press Release, “This $34.5 billion budget continues for a sixth consecutive year the highest amount of aid for public schools and includes the largest pension payment in New Jersey history.”
The Governor also issued two Executive Orders, which will hold some state funds in reserve, including Transitional Aid, until there is Legislative action to alter public employee health benefits through the Plan Design Committee (The Governor’s proposed budget included $250 million in savings from unspecified changes.) and action to authorize TTF funding.
On the TTF, Executive Order 210 reads, in part:
1.The Commissioner of DOT and the Executive Director of New Jersey Transit are instructed to plan an immediate and orderly shutdown of all ongoing work that is funded by the TTFA, with the understanding that any work that is funded by federal funds may continue. The respective plans for such orderly shutdown shall be completed no later than 11:59 pm on Saturday, July 2, 2016.
2. All work that is funded by the TTFA shall cease according to the shutdown plans established respectively by the Commissioner and Executive Director, with the understanding that any work that is funded by federal funds may continue.
3. The Commissioner of DOT shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that work performed at the municipal level that is funded by the TTFA, through grant or otherwise, shall cease in a manner consistent with this Executive Order, with the understanding that any work that is funded by federal funds may continue.
In order to account for the absence of the $250 million in unspecified health benefit savings, Executive Order 209 instructs the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting, as follows.
The amounts immediately reserved shall include all legislative additions to my recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2017, as determined by the Director, and half of the appropriation for Transitional Aid to Localities, along with such other amounts of such items of appropriation as the Director shall determine to be necessary to effectuate the purposes of this Order.
The sequestration of Transitional Aid funding, which was completely unexpected, will pose serious problems for communities facing serious needs. The League will continue to review the Governor’s line-item vetoes and keep you posted on any further developments.