Says Unsustainable Plan Fails Special Education Students
Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26), Vice-Chair of the Senate Select Committee on School Funding Fairness, blasted an unsustainable school funding scheme proposed by the Senate President and Assembly Speaker that fails to increase support for the state’s most vulnerable students. He called on Governor Christie to veto the plan if it passes the Legislature.
Sen. Joe Pennacchio blasted an unsustainable school funding scheme proposed by the Senate President and Assembly Speaker that fails to increase support for the state’s most vulnerable students. He called on Gov. Christie to veto the plan. (Flickr)
“I have said repeatedly that any school funding reform proposal must fully cover the cost of extraordinary special education for New Jersey’s most vulnerable students,” said Pennacchio. “Those children deserve our support wherever they live in New Jersey. The Sweeney/Prieto plan, however, ignores special education completely. I’m disappointed in what they proposed, it’s just not right. Governor Christie should veto this plan the second it hits his desk.”
Pennacchio noted that fully funding special education, at a cost of $125 million, would cost less than the additional $171 million Democrats have proposed spending, and it would help school districts across New Jersey, not just those represented by Democrats.
“What they’ve proposed is a political plan for an election year, plain and simple,” said Pennacchio. “Senate Republicans made a good faith effort to work on a bispartisan basis to reform our state’s broken school funding formula. Why’d we go through the charade of the Select Committee process if Democrats were going to ignore real solutions? Our students and property taxpayers deserve better than a backroom deal.”
Pennacchio contrasted the Democrats’ secretive plan with a comprehensive proposal issued publicly by Senate Republicans in March as part of the Select Committee process.
Pennacchio also expressed dismay that the Sweeney/Prieto plan perpetuates abuses, such as an insufficient accounting of PILOT agreements, which allows some cities to skew their aid calculations at the expense of other deserving school districts.
“Unlike our plan, which would replace the flawed SFRA, Democrats are now doubling-down on the failed formula,” said Pennachcio. “Adding more money into a broken formula is a really bad idea. I guess we’ve learned that really bad ideas are what we should expect from New Jersey Democrats.”
Additionally, Pennacchio noted that the Democrats’ plan is financially unsustainable beyond this year without future tax increases.
“New Jersey doesn’t have the extra billions that Democrats are promising,” added Pennacchio. “Their plan relies heavily on property tax increases, and apparently new income tax increases as they announced this morning. Watch your wallets.”
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