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Senate OKs school funding reform; Assembly action awaited

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Senate President Stephen Sweeney delivering remarks Monday afternoon.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney delivering remarks Monday afternoon. - ()

The state Senate on Thursday approved a school funding bill aimed at overhauling how New Jersey school districts are financed.

Senate Bill 2 passed 25-13; the related Assembly Bill 2 has yet to be voted on.

Pushed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, the legislation is an integral part of lawmakers’ plans for the fiscal 2019 budget. Earlier this month, Sweeney said he’d be willing to shut the state government down for a second year in a row if he didn’t get his way on school funding.

Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday he was mostly on board with Sweeney’s funding – that is, if he can gets his way on some other budgetary matters.

“I think we’ve got the ‘school’ part reasonably well-machine,” Murphy said at a Wednesday press conference. “It’s the ‘funding’ part, it’s the ultimate half-the-loaf. We’ve got a very nice looking half-a-loaf. We need a whole loaf to make this work.”

Sweeney’s proposal calls for transferring money away from districts that have more than 100 percent of the state aid they’re legally required to receive, and transferring that to the districts with less than 58 percent of that amount, until they’re at 58 percent.

Democratic lawmakers are proposing $64.5 million in school funding in addition to $283 million Murphy proposed for schools.

Also Thursday, the state Senate approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-26th District, and Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-25th District, aimed at supporting the growth of local farm markets and removing regulatory hurdles when vendors sell baked goods. Senate Bill 410 would allow cakes, cookies, and other baked goods to be sold at farm markets wrapped but unweighted.

For more 2019 NJ budget:

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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