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February 17, 2016
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State Budget FY 2017 Highlights for Children and Families
Governor Christie unveiled his proposed FY 2017 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 $94.3 million to $9.1 billion. School aid represents more than 27 percent of the $34.1 billion proposed budget. All school districts will receive an increase in funding.
While recent budget proposals included increased funding for districts with existing preschool programs, the FY 2017 does not. Preschool funding remains at the FY 2016 level of $655.5 million.

School Breakfast
New Jersey school districts continue to receive additional federal funding to feed breakfast to hungry students.  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.
Actual FY 2015 revenues received were $82.6 million – an increase of 8 percent from FY 2014 when revenues were $76.5 million. The budget estimates FY 2016 revenues will be $92 million, while FY 2017 revenues are projected to be $98 million -- more than double the amount prior to the campaign launch.

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. Since the expansion took effect on January 1, 2014, 434,000 low-income residents have gained health insurance through NJ FamilyCare, a 34 percent increase in program enrollment (including Medicaid enrollment). The FY 2017 recommendation also includes an additional $45 million in state and federal funds to annualize the increased reimbursement rates for certain primary and specialty care services offered through NJ FamilyCare that began in January 2016.

Earned Income Tax Credit
The governor’s budget continues the FY 2016 increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit from 20 to 30 percent of the federal credit.

Advocates for Children of New Jersey will continue to comb budget documents for more details as they are issued. 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

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