volume 6/Issue 20

  • Charter School Regulatory Relief Proposals Announced
  • Senate & Assembly Announce Joint Investigation of NJ TRANSIT
  • Milestones for Gateway Tunnel Project Announced
  • Lt. Governor Guadagno Breaks with Governor Christie on Gas Tax Raise

Charter School Regulatory Relief Proposals Announced

In November 2015, Governor Christie met with charter school leaders to discuss regulatory burdens and ways to ensure their growth and sustainability.

Subsequently, the State developed a series of recommendations that was unveiled at the State Board of Education last week. They include:

  • Permit a weighted lottery for charter school enrollment;
  • Establish an expedited renewal process for high-performing charters;
  • Permit single-purpose charter schools;
  • Ease the way for charter schools to secure facilities and capital funding;
  • Establish a pilot program for charter-specific teacher, administrator, and school business administrator certifications;
  • Streamline procedures around budgetary controls and fund monitoring.

Over the next several months, the State Board of Education will take public testimony and host hearings on the regulations, before voting on its implementation. Click here to read full rule proposal (click on item G).

Senate & Assembly Announce Joint Investigation of NJ TRANSIT

Last week, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced that joint legislative hearings will be held to investigate NJ TRANSIT’S safety procedures, operations and finances.  The announcement comes in the wake of the recent fatal train derailment at the Hoboken Train Station and ensuing questions surrounding the fiscal and management functions of the agency. 

Assembly Speaker Prieto had previously announced that his house was considering granting subpoena power to the Assembly Judiciary Committee to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documents.  Legislation authorizing the subpoena was introduced by Chairman McKeon and the Judiciary Committee is set to vote on it this Thursday. 

The first joint legislative hearing will be held this Friday, September 21, in Trenton.

Milestones for Gateway Tunnel Project Announced

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and NJ Senators Robert Menendez, Corey Booker and other bi-state officials recently announced a series of accomplishments to move the Gateway Tunnel Project forward.

Among the milestones achieved:

  • Adding the project to the President’s Permitting Dashboard: This makes the project a top priority for the multitude of agencies involved in the permitting process and possibly expediting environmental reviews.
  • Eligibility for an “Emerging Projects Loan:” “Emerging Projects” is a $35 billion federal loan and technical assistance program, for complex, large scale projects.
  • Eligibility for “New Starts” Funding: The Hudson Tunnel Project and Portal North Bridge – critical elements of the Gateway Program – were accepted into the New Starts Project Development process over the summer, making these projects eligible for more FTA funds.  The Portal Bridge portion of the project is also under FTA evaluation, and will be included in the Department of Transportation’s recommendation for the President’s FY18 Budget if it scores well.

 The federal leaders noted that these milestones demonstrate that the Gateway Tunnel Project is moving at “record speed.”

Lt. Governor Guadagno Breaks with Governor Christie on Gas Tax Raise

Appearing on NJ 101.5 radio, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno announced last week that she doesn’t support the 23 cent gas tax increase that was part of the Transportation Trust Fund package passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Christie.

As reported on NJ.105 when asked by radio host Bill Spadea, the Lt. Governor acknowledged that the TTF needs to be fixed but stated “I have made my views known to (the governor’s) staff. I do not believe in any increase in taxes for any reason. The answer is no.”  

The statement represents the first time the Lt. Governor has publicly disagreed with Governor Christie on a major policy initiative.