New Jersey's 24th Legislative District

Senator Steven Oroho

District 24

District 24 Lawmakers Blast Murphy’s $5.5 Million Cut in Local School Aid

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Senator Steven Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths (all R-24) reacted to news that Governor Murphy’s proposed budget includes a dramatic decrease in state aid to schools within the 24th Legislative District.

District 24, which includes towns in Sussex, Warren and Morris Counties, is slated to lose more than $5,519,000 in State school aid next school year under Governor Murphy’s proposed budget, according to documentation released by the State Department of Education.

Senator Steven Oroho and Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space blasted $5.5 million in cuts to schools in their legislative district proposed by Governor Murphy in his State Budget for next year. (©iStock)

“For years, we have been sounding the alarm about the dire need to fix New Jersey’s terribly flawed school funding formula,” Oroho said. “Regretfully, any funding scenario that formularizes the Abbott mandates which translates into two-thirds of all State aid going to a handful of urban school districts will always be flawed no matter how you run numbers. Our students and our taxpayers deserve better treatment, and we will continue to fight for them until we get a school funding formula that treats every student equally.”

“How can Governor Murphy in good conscience ask our property taxpayers to pay even more to make up for these cuts in one breath, and promise to pay for free community college in the next? It’s a travesty,” Space added. “We have regularly been in contact with our school districts and advocating on their behalf, and we applaud their joining together to vigorously protest these cuts with us.”

Last year, Oroho, Space and Wirths voted against the changes (S-2) to the school funding formula which resulted in the aid cuts. The funding cuts to local school districts when the formula change is fully phased in over the next six years will total $40 million less annually.

“This administration claims that it is committed to serving the needs of all NJ school children. That is not the reality in our district,” Wirths added. “Time and time again, our taxpayers have been asked to pay more out of their own pockets to fund Governor Murphy’s progressive agenda. It is completely unfair. Every child should have the same opportunity to get a great education, regardless of where they live. The time has come for this Legislature to take a hard look at the formula and come up with a solution that ensures all children and taxpayers are treated fairly and equally.”

The legislators thanked those school districts, like North Warren Regional, who showed up in Trenton this week with busloads of students to demonstrate against school aid cuts. The legislators have been working closely with school districts since funding changes were initially contemplated in 2017. Fortunately, the District 24 legislators working with then-Governor Christie were able to restore funds that were slated to be taken away by legislative Democrats in the FY ’18 State Budget. North Warren Regional was one of those school districts who had aid restored during that time.

“Since Governor Murphy has taken office, it has been an assault on our school districts,” continued Space. “The governor likes to talk about ‘tax fairness’, but there’s nothing fair about taking resources from one school district and giving it to another, increasing the local property tax burden, and not doing anything to cure the underlying problem of a flawed school funding formula.”

Senator Oroho has always taken particular issue with a provision of the school funding formula that is termed the geographic cost factor.

“The geographic cost factor is a discriminatory premise that operates under the fallacy that it costs less to educate a student in more rural sections of New Jersey, so our aid gets reduced,” noted Oroho. “This is just one example of how certain aspects of the school funding formula are unfairly weighted against suburban and rural school districts to the detriment of our students and taxpayers. While I recognize that any formula driven aid will be significantly based on enrollment and school boards must manage for it, the reality is there are so many inherent flaws in the formula working against our local school districts that we come out on the losing end.”

“Governor Murphy’s pursuit of a progressive fiscal agenda has and will continue to drive up our taxes, and his aid cuts to our schools will only increase property taxes, so there’s no rest for the tax weary in New Jersey, especially in our local communities,” reiterated Wirths. “I find it unconscionable that the State can find money to fund college for illegal immigrants, but we can’t provide adequate funds to afford all K-12 students a quality education. I hope our school personnel as well taxpayers rise up and join with us to say ‘enough is enough.’”

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