Citing the growing disparity in State school funding as one of the chief reasons for high property taxes, Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove lambasted the enactment of legislation that provides an undisclosed amount of supplemental State aid to the Atlantic City School District.
The legislation, A-3983, narrowly passed both houses of the Legislature in June. Senator Connors, Assemblyman Rumpf and Assemblywoman Gove all opposed and voted against the bailout bill when it was presented on the floor of their respective Houses for final passage.
The 9th District delegation issued the following statement:
“The State’s school funding formula provides a windfall of funding to 31 special needs districts, formerly designated as Abbotts, while chronically underfunding the remaining school districts. As a consequence, taxpayers of suburban and rural school districts have watched their high property taxes increase even as municipalities make drastic cuts in their budgets.
“This is why those of us who have made reforming the State’s school funding formula our top priority were irate to see that legislation providing an undisclosed amount of supplemental school aid to Atlantic City was signed into law. Without question, this was a setback and yet another hit on the taxpayers.
“How can you vote for a spending bill when you don’t know how much it will cost? Or do you have to pass it to know how much to spend, just as members of Congress argued that you had to pass ObamaCare to know what was in it?
“If the state can’t find enough money to increase homestead rebates or increase the pension contribution, how can it provide more aid to Atlantic City?
“Yes, we recognize that Atlantic City is a vital part of the state’s economy. For that reason, we unalterably opposed letting casinos open in other parts of the state. But how much does every other taxpayer have to pay to bailout Atlantic City where many of the problems are self-inflicted?
“Greater focus needs to be shifted to helping out seniors, middle class families and small businesses who continue to be squeezed by State polices that don’t represent their interests. Things will only get worse if we continue on this path and fail to recognize that taxpayers cannot afford to provide 56 percent of school aid to 20 percent of the state’s students while, at the same time, having suburban and rural taxpayers bailout the cities.”