Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove said they have a simple, obvious and direct response to members of the State Economic & Fiscal Policy Workgroup, which held a roundtable on October 23 in Toms River: reform the state’s rigged school funding formula.
District 9 lawmakers said they have a simple response to members of the Economic & Fiscal Policy Workgroup: reform NJ’s rigged school funding formula. (Wikimedia)
“The state workgroup organized by Senate President Steve Sweeney promoted its roundtable as a discussion on pressing state fiscal issues including ‘county and municipal government reform’ and avoiding ‘crisis conditions.’
“While the agenda items sound good on paper, if the Workgroup is truly interested in providing achievable tax relief to residents in our area, the answer is staring them right in the face: reform New Jersey’s rigged school funding formula.
“By design, the state school funding formula treats suburban and rural school districts disparately, compared to the politically-favored urban ‘special needs’ districts, which receive a windfall of State aid. Fairness for non-urban school districts does not factor into the calculation.
“Taxpayers in our area have been systematically exploited as donors to other parts of the state, subsidizing students in another school district, while their own school district is underfunded and increasingly reliant on local property taxes.
“As a consequence, school districts working to provide the best education for our children are pitted against discontented taxpayers trying to keep their head above water financially, creating hostile environments in our communities that benefit no one.
“A number of school districts in our Legislative District that saw their State funding cut this year were also hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. These districts are still working to rebuild their tax base, and on top of that, the reality is that their schools have been chronically-underfunded for years.
“Evidently, the plight of these residents, students and educational professionals somehow don’t measure up to the needs of urban areas, which have received the lion share of school funding for decades.
“For taxpayers in this area struggling to cope with the increasing cost of government, it’s certainly not the fault of their county or municipal government. Their problem is Trenton. Counties and municipalities have state-imposed caps on their tax levies to restrict spending, whereas the state is free to increase spending as it sees fit – and does.
“Trenton officials don’t have to travel far to find the source of what makes this state unaffordable for too many residents in our area of the state.”