Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris, Essex and Passaic, supporting women and families in domestic violence shelters and the communities that host them, was approved by the General Assembly today.
In addition to Webber, other primary sponsors include Assembly Republicans Anthony M. Bucco and BettyLou DeCroce.
“This bill is the result of the unanimous support of the Assembly which recognizes the financial burdens presently imposed on towns that provide transitional facilities for battered women and their children,” said Webber, who is a member of the Assembly Budget Committee. “During the budget hearings this year, the committee heard testimony that drew its attention to the school funding obligation placed on the municipality where these facilities are located if the student resides there beyond one year. The typical stay at a transitional facility is two years, requiring the host town to absorb the cost of the second year of the student’s education.
“This bill removes the unfair financial burden on the host municipalities that house victims of abuse from communities across the state and will help sustain the viability of the transitional housing facilities which provide the compassionate care these abused victims need and deserve,” Webber stated.
The legislation, A-3164/S-2120, which received unanimous support in the Assembly (77-0), would take effect in the 2012/13 school year. The bill stipulates the State will pay the educational costs of students who reside in a domestic violence shelter or transitional living facility for more than one year. The Departments of Education and Children and Families will establish rules to identify those facilities that qualify as transitional living facilities or domestic violence shelters.
“New Jersey’s per-pupil costs are a drain on local budgets,” said Anthony M. Bucco, R-Morris and Somerset, who is also a member of the Budget Committee. “Communities with shelters that house students who live in these facilities are forced to bear an inequitable fiscal burden. At a time when host towns are trying to cut costs, but preserve services while keeping property tax rates in check, this bill helps alleviate the costly burden municipalities are incurring.”
An administrative law court’s decision in 2010 interpreted conflicting statutes and concluded that once a family in transition lives within a school district for 12 consecutive months, the financial responsibility of any school age children in that family is the host district’s responsibility.
“Municipalities around the state are strapped for cash as it is,” said DeCroce, R-Morris, Essex and Passaic. “Requiring them to bear this additional fiscal burden on their own isn’t fair. At the same time, we have a responsibility to assist victims of abuse who face dire situations through no fault of their own. This legislation is an equitable solution.”