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February 27, 2014

State Budget Highlights for Children and Families

Governor Christie unveiled his proposed FY 2015 budget on Tuesday. Details are still sparse and will emerge in the coming weeks. The budget will be debated in the state Legislature over the next few months. The Legislature must adopt a final budget by June 30. Changes could occur during that time. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Here is what we know so far:

State Aid to Schools
The Governor recommended increasing state aid to schools by $36.8 million to $9 billion. School aid represents more than 26 percent of the $34.4 billion proposed budget. The budget also proposes using $5 million to fund extended school day and school year pilot programs.

The $9 billion in school aid includes $652.8 million to fund preschool for districts with existing programs. This is a $4.7 million increase over FY 2014.

School Breakfast
New Jersey school districts are expected to receive an additional $21 million in federal funding to feed breakfast to hungry students. In FY 2012, New Jersey collected almost $56 million in federal funds for school breakfast. That is expected to increase to $77 million in the coming fiscal year – a 38 percent increase.

This is the result of schools serving more children that all-important morning meal. ACNJ has led the NJ Food for Thought School Breakfast Campaign, which has succeeded in convincing more districts to serve breakfast during the first few minutes of the school day, rather than before school when students have not yet arrived.

Known as “breakfast after the bell,” this approach significantly increases student participation in this  federally-funded child nutrition program. This is great news for New Jersey students, schools and the communities they serve. And it means that New Jersey is bringing back more of the federal dollars we already send to Washington, while addressing childhood hunger -- a major barrier to learning.

NJ FamilyCare
The proposed budget continues the expansion of Medicaid for certain parents/caretakers and single adults without children, ages 19 to 64 under NJ FamilyCare. State funding for children enrolled in NJ FamilyCare, the state’s free or low-cost health coverage, would increase by $21 million. The number of children enrolled is projected to be 194,000 in the coming budget year – a 30,000 increase over last year’s projection. (This excludes Medicaid enrollment). New Jersey has steadily decreased the rank of uninsured children – a result of a coordinated effort to enroll more children in NJ FamilyCare. Again, this is good news for children, families and the state as a whole.

Earned Income Tax Credit
The governor’s budget does not recommend restoring the FY 2011 cut to the Earned Income Tax Credit, which reduced the amount of state refunds low-income workers receive.

New Jersey After 3 had an appropriation of $750,000 last year, but will no longer be funded under the governor’s budget proposal.

Advocates for Children of New Jersey will continue to comb budget documents for more details. We will let you know when public hearings on the budget are scheduled. Please be on the lookout for future updates and opportunities to influence the budget process.

Advocates for Children of New Jersey
 35 Halsey Street 2nd Floor, Newark, NJ 07102
(Between Bleeker St. and Central Ave.)
973.643.3876 I Fax 973.643.9153 I www.acnj.org 
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