Support Emergency Legislation to Remove Municipal Libraries from the Levy Cap . . .

June 20, 2007 at 1:31 pm 2 comments

Go! Do it! NOW!

Support emergency legislation to remove municipal libraries from the levy cap . . . THERE IS A VOTE TOMORROW!

I just wanted to share the link to look up your legislator – it is EASY! You can look on the right side by alphabetical list, municipality, district, etc…

You get your district and you click on that to see the people and contact info.

I JUST CALLED them – I have always e-mailed in these cases but today I CALLED because I had just been in one of the webinars on WebJunction for the Spanish Language Outreach Program with some people who talked about advocating.

It only took me about 5 minutes!
The people are nice!
They want these calls.

I identified myself as a librarian living and/or working in the district and asked for them to support the emergency legislation to remove municipal libraries from the levy cap. I said there is a vote tomorrow.

They already knew what I was talking about!
They took my name and seemed very interested to hear from me.

You either leave a message or talk to an assistant who takes the information.

REALLY – it took me less than five minute total for me to call three people!


Original message from Pat Tumulty:


We need your assistance right now to contact your NJ State Senators. Not tomorrow. Right now. Please ask your state senator to support emergency legislation which would allow an adjustment to levy cap calculations for local public library funding.When the new municipal cap levy legislation was passed this year, municipal libraries were included as part of the calculation for the levy cap.

This, unfortunately, created an inequity for the 245 communities which support municipal libraries. Communities which support county libraries have library expenditures excluded from the municipal levy because county libraries are funded by a dedicated tax and, therefore, outside the levy cap.

New Jersey League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Library Association and the NJ State Library have been working for a month on what we hoped would be a solution to this issue by adding language to state budget bill. Unfortunately, we were told last Friday, that this solution would not work and that we would need legislation. We must correct this inequity before July 1 because urban communities begin a new budget year on that date and would become subject to the levy cap. All other communities will be impacted with the budgets beginning on Jan. 1, 2008.

The Assembly, under the leadership of Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman, will consider emergency legislation to exempt municipal libraries from the cap legislation TOMORROW- Thursday, June 21.

We have every indication that there is support for this legislation.We are less certain of Senate approval, and we have learned that the Senate will cancel next week’s scheduled meetings and recess for the Summer. Therefore, it is imperative that this legislation pass tomorrow.

We must have this emergency legislation enacted in the Senate before the Legislature goes on summer break. Please contact your State Senator’s legislative office today and tell them you support emergency legislation to remove municipal libraries from the levy cap and that it must be enacted before summer recess.

Pat Tumulty, Executive Director
New Jersey Library Association


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  • 1. Lisa Coats  |  June 20, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks for the push, Amy! I didn’t call, but I did send an email. I’ve had the messages in my In Box to deal with, but I’m leaving work soon and going to ALA all weekend, so I wasn’t taking the time. This pushed me to do so.

  • 2. Amy J. Kearns, MLIS  |  June 22, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Here is the update today in a letter from Pat Tumulty:




    First, what you want to know. Unfortunately, our efforts to get emergency resolutions passed yesterday in the Legislature to remove library funding from the levy cap were unsuccessful. It is my understanding that there will be continued talks about removing libraries through the waiver process which currently exists in the law. We will let you know what is happening as things progress.

    Now, let me reflect on the past ten days here in Trenton. I will use that famous phrase,

    “ It was the best of times and it was the worst of times.”

    On June 13, we became aware that funding for the Knowledge Initiative would be reduced by $ 1 million, a very significant cut in this program. We also became aware that there was a resolution by Assemblyman Russo to remove municipal libraries from the cap levy through budget language. This is something which we supported. Both of these issues were critical to the library community. It just seemed natural that the State Library would take the lead in trying to restore the KI funding and NJLA take the lead with the cap issue. I testified on both of these issues on June 15, 2007. I will make sure that copies of my testimony are on the website shortly.

    Susan Kaplan, the manager of the KI program, did an outstanding job organizing testimony regarding the impact of the funding reduction for KI. Supporters attended public hearings on the budget on June 15 and June 18. Unfortunately, no changes in the budget were made but the library community made an impression. Assembly Budget chairman Lou Greenwald said this is a program which really should be expanded and indicated that he would work with the library community on this important issue.

    Now, the cap issue. On Friday, June 15, NJLA and the NJ League of Municipalities, through its Executive Director Bill Dressel, prepared a joint letter to Chairman Lou Greenwald indicating we supported the budget resolution to remove library funding from the cap levy. By the end of the day, we told this would not happen in the budget. On Sunday evening, we decided to try plan B and get an emergency resolution passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed by the Governor. This is an extremely difficult and unusual thing to do but we felt it was our only chance. On Monday, June 18th we started with no sponsors and no language but we felt we had legislative support.

    I want to explain to you something getting things done in Trenton. You need the complete agreement of the leadership and staff in Assembly, of the leadership and staff in Senate and the Governor’s office. If one of these groups doesn’t want it to happen, it won’t. As advocates, we often don’t know who is actually making the final decision. We were very fortunate to get the support of Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman to sponsor a resolution in the Assembly and Senator Barbara Buono as the Senate sponsor. We understand there was bipartisan in both houses of the Legislature. We had support within the Governor’s office but, in the end, someone didn’t what this to happen last night and without complete agreement it did not come forward.

    I want to commend our partner in this effort, Bill Dressel, Executive Director of the NJ League of Municipalities. He was absolutely wonderful. This truly a partnership effort with both organizations sending out legislative alerts to our members on this critical issue. He was everywhere with us on this issue. I hope you will let your municipal officials know who much we appreciate his hard work.

    Now, I want to thank all of you who took the time to call or fax your legislators to support KI funding and the cap levy issue. You truly raised the visibility of libraries here in Trenton this week. Please take the time to thank all of the people you contacted on these issues. Let them know their efforts on our behalf were deeply appreciated and that we will need them in the future to support library issues.

    I am very disappointed with the outcome of our efforts this week but I am so proud of your efforts to advocate for library services here in New Jersey.

    Ok, now into the car to drive to DC. I hope all of you who are going will travel safely. More updates soon and thanks again.

    Pat Tumulty, Executive Director

    New Jersey Library Association


    Are you a member of NJLA? If not, join today!

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