Senator Joe Pennacchio (R- Essex, Morris, Passaic) issued the following statement on the proposed school funding plan:
Sen Joe Pennacchio issued a statement on the proposed school funding plan. (SenateNJ.com)
“The Republican members of the Senate Select Committee on School Funding Fairness were given an assurance that meaningful school funding reform was on its way. The committee had equal members of Republicans and Democrats, a number of regional meetings and round table discussions were held statewide. Staff from both sides of the aisle continued to hold what we were told were ‘good faith, meaningful discussions.’ In the end, partisan politics won.
“Threatened by Hudson County’s own Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, the Senate Democrats decided it was easier to fold up and fall in line rather than fight for what was promised and, more importantly, right. The committee, as it turned out, was nothing more than political theater, no doubt done to gain leverage against Prieto himself. In the end, Prieto won and our children lost.
“Republicans had the audacity to ask that the current formula be policed so it could not be manipulated. Jersey City, with its billions of dollars in PILOT money, evades the formula while the state’s taxpayers foot the bill for its school district. Jersey City, incidentally, is located in Hudson County. Cities like Hoboken continue to allow their wealthiest residents to send their children to state-funded pre-k programs. Again, Hoboken is located in Hudson County.
“Republicans asked to prioritize funding for children with special needs, our most vulnerable students. Instead, the Democrats’ backroom deal continues the shameful tradition of prioritizing special needs children by their ZIP codes. No doubt those ZIP codes are located in — you guessed it — Hudson County.
“Getting a fairly funded school formula was not an easy task. No one said it would be. However, taking the easy way out during an election year does not rise to the levels of ‘profiles of courage.’ Doing good things sometimes is hard. In this case, Democrats let 80-percent of our school children and their tax-paying parents down. At least Hudson County politicos are happy.”
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