Florio Outflanks Republicans in School-Aid Debate
Despite attempts by Republican lawmakers to postpone the election of local school-board members and the consideration of district budgets, New Jersey voters will go to the polls this week after all.
Gov. James J. Florio late last month said he would veto legislation that would have delayed the elections for three weeks.
Although the heavy G.O.P. majorities in both chambers of the legislature probably would have had the votes to override a veto, Mr. Florio's decision and the way in which he intends to implement it have effectively thwarted any opportunity for them to try.
Under the state constitution, the governor has 45 days to act on legislation. The scheduled election date of April 7 arrives two days before Mr. Florio's time runs out. He was expected to veto the bill on April 8. (See Education Week, March 4, 1992.)
The Republicans had sought to delay the elections in order to revise the formula for distribution of state aid to school districts.
Outflanked by Mr. Florio's maneuver, President of the Senate Donald T. DiFrancesco and Speaker of the House Garabed (Chuck) Haytaian indicated they would drop any further attempts to change state-aid figures for the coming school year.
A plan submitted by Assembly Republicans had called for a $127-million reduction in the amount of state aid proposed by the Governor for the 1992-93 school year. Although no district would have received less money than it did this year, the Assembly plan would have shifted some money away from urban districts to small, suburban ones.
School officials said they were pleased by the outcome of the first confrontation between Mr. Florio and the new Republican majorities elected last fall.
"Governor Florio's decision to maintain the April 7 election date will enable most school districts to receive an adequate level of state aid and will not disrupt the school election and budgeting process,'' said Robert E. Boose, the executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association.
"However, local school districts continue to express concern about the possibility that the legislature will make cuts,'' he added.
But observers said they were not certain what effect Mr. Florio's action will have on his relationship with Republican leaders.
"It was a disappointment that they could not find a common ground,'' said a spokesman for Senator DiFrancesco.
Despite the parliamentary maneuver, "we would certainly try to work cooperatively, especially on issues of education,'' said the spokesman.
Vol. 11, Issue 29, Page 18