The New Jersey Business & Industry Association today testified in favor of four fiscal reform bills designed to lower the cost of local governments as part of a wide-ranging plan to fix New Jersey’s government finances.
Between them, the Senate and Assembly appropriations committees will consider legislation involving curriculum at K-8 school districts, sharing services between local governments, and examining state and local taxes and economic development policies. Individually, the bills are narrow in scope, but they are part of a broad, impactful plan to revamp New Jersey’s finances called The Path to Progress, which NJBIA supports.
NJBIA Vice President for Government Affairs Chris Emigholz made that point while testifying in favor of these bills earlier today.
“It is urgent for our state and for our taxpayers that the Legislature act on all five parts of the Path to Progress report: Pension and Benefit Reform; Leveraging Assets to Stabilize the Pension System; Education Reform at the Administrative Level; County and Municipal Government Reform and Shared Services; and State and Local Government Tax Structure,” Emigholz said. “Reforms in all five of these areas are needed to improve the fiscal health of our State, and our taxpayers deserve no less.
“What makes the Path to Progress legislation so important is it recognizes a fundamental truth: New Jersey’s finances will always be in disarray until we change how we raise and especially how we spend money,” Emigholz said. “It’s not just a matter of fiscal discipline; New Jersey’s financial problems are deeply systemic.”
Two measures are scheduled for separate votes in both the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee. They are:
- S-3756 (Ruiz, D-29; Sarlo, D-36)/A-6115 (Jasey, D-27), which would require K-8 school districts to coordinate their school calendars and curriculum with the high schools they send their graduates to. Emigholz called it “a long overdue, commonsense measure” that could save money by eliminating duplication.
- S-3770 (Sarlo, D-36; Oroho, R-24)/A-6118 (Greenwald, D-6), which would establish the “New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Review Commission” to provide ongoing review of state and local tax structure and economic conditions.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee also is scheduled a vote on legislation to require counties to appoint a shared-services coordinator. That bill is S-3764 (Andrzejczak, D-1; Bucco, R-25).
“New Jersey has been quietly encouraging them for decades, but this bill puts staff and money behind that encouragement to make them actually happen,” Emigholz said.
Meanwhile, the Assembly Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider A-6116/S-3763 (DeAngelo, D-14); Addiego, D-8; Bateman, D-16; Sarlo, D-36), “a simple but clever bill to change the name of ‘joint meetings’ to ‘regional service agencies'” under the Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act, Emigholz said. “It would better capture their real meaning and hopefully encourage their use.”
“We are excited to hopefully see these Path to Progress bills pass this committee today, and NJBIA and our taxpayers urgently need more Path to Progress legislation to become law as soon as possible to make New Jersey more affordable for our residents and businesses,” Emigholz said.